Bulls second-quarter flurry overwhelms Hawks for fifth-straight win

It was one of those don’t-blink moments.

Unfortunately for the visiting Hawks, they did.

Midway through the second quarter of Wednesday’s rematch from two nights earlier, the Bulls and Atlanta were doing what they usually seem to do the past few seasons – trading baskets with little resistance.

A Chaundee Brown Jr. layup brought the visiting team to within two at the 6:04 mark before halftime, and Nikola Vucevic answered with an 18-footer, keeping the tennis volley alive and well.

Then it was as if a storm came rolling across the United Center floor, and with just under five minutes left before the halftime horn sounded, the Hawks had nowhere to hide, nowhere to find shelter.

A Javonte Green dunk – because Green always seems to dunk, a Zach LaVine three, a LaVine layup, a Green layup, a Nikola Vucevic jumper, another LaVine three, an Ayo Dosunmu three … by the time the Hawks could run for cover into their locker room, the two-point deficit just six minutes earlier was 21.

A 24-5 flurry that few teams could recover from.

Considering the Hawks (15-19) had 13 players in the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, almost impossible for them, as the Bulls won 131-117 for their fifth straight victory.

Not that the Bulls (22-10) weren’t down some bodies, but they at least had their “Big Three” in LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Vucevic. More importantly when playing the Hawks, they had two players hell-bent on making life difficult for star point guard Trae Young.

After Young torched Coby White at the start of the Monday game, acting head coach Chris Fleming turned to Green and Dosunmu with elite defenders Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso on the shelf.

Dosunmu especially took the challenge personally, not only holding Young to an 0-for-5 when he guarded him in the Monday meeting, but when he continued the battle in the rematch, it took a logo three from Young to finally get one on the rookie.

“When I got the assignment, when I first checked him, pretty much all the other stuff goes out the window,” Dosunmu said of facing Young. “Now it was just about feeding my competitive nature.”

Which is why Dosunmu is so appreciated by his coaching staff.

“With Ayo he’s got a really unique approach where he doesn’t have a whole lot of fear and he wants to know what he has to do to get on the floor,” Fleming said. “He’s like, ‘OK, tell me what it has to be.’ And he approaches every day like that. I don’t know if it’s necessarily one big thing, but it’s a sum of a lot of little things that a rookie has to learn, and I think he’s done a good job of attacking it the right way. His approach is he’s just been ready whenever we’ve called on him.”

Young did finish with 26, but did so on 10-of-23 shooting, including 2-for-7 from three.

And Dosunmu wasn’t alone, as Green started the game on Young.

“Both those guys did a really good job,” Fleming said. “We just have to continue to work on that side of the ball.”

As for the “Big Three?”

They didn’t need to play hero on this night, as LaVine finished with 25, DeRozan 20, and Vucevic 16 with 20 rebounds.

Impressive, but the entire offense was, finishing with a season-high 38 assists, with Coby White leading the way with 12 in the surgical dissection of Atlanta’s defense.

“Just came out and wanted to be aggressive,” White said of his performance. “We’re a very unselfish group. We took what the defense gave us.”

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