Bulls grab edge over Hawks in playoff fight | Inquirer Sports

Bulls grab edge over Hawks in playoff fight

/ 12:55 PM May 07, 2011

ATLANTA – NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose scored a career-high 44 points Friday to power the Chicago Bulls past Atlanta 99-82 as the top-seeded visitors grabbed the edge in their playoff fight.

Rose sank 16-of-27 shots from the field, three of them from beyond the 3-point arc, and added seven assists, five rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal.

“Just attacking the whole game. That was my whole thought process,” Rose said. “Of course I love the (MVP) award but I’m glad to get that over with and just focus on basketball.”

The Bulls, who lost the opener on their home court, took a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series which continues in Atlanta on Sunday and shifts back to Chicago on Tuesday.

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Either the Bulls or Hawks will face the winner between Miami and Boston in the Eastern Conference final to determine a berth in the NBA Finals.

Rose scored 17 points in the first quarter, when Chicago took a 29-23 lead, and dropped back-to-back 3-pointers midway into the fourth quarter to help end any thoughts of a Hawks’ comeback.

“He’s tough to cover anyway, but when his jump shot is falling, he’s the MVP,” said Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who spent much of the game trying in vain to shut down Rose.

“Derrick was in attack mode, obviously,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He was attacking from the start. We needed it to set the tone. When he’s not dancing with the ball and he’s attacking, he’s impossible to stop.”

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Showing no sign of an ankle sprain that had nagged him earlier in the series, Rose helped Chicago to a 47-34 rebounding edge and made the Bulls look like the team that won a league-high 62 games in the regular season.

“I just wanted to get my groove back,” Rose said. “Knock it down. That’s all I was trying to do.”

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Teague scored 21 points to lead the Hawks, but Atlanta was otherwise unable to handle the Bulls’ onslaught.

“They completely beat us up,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “My big guys did not show up.”

Al Horford and Joe Johnson each scored only 10 points for Atlanta.

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“It seemed like I was buried in the corner all night,” Johnson said. “We didn’t do anything to get the ball to our scorers.”

TAGS: Basketball, National Basketball Association (North American Professional), Sports

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