Following a 40-point blowout over the Sacramento Kings, many could expect a letdown for the Chicago Bulls when they took on the Atlanta Hawks.
Exactly the opposite occurred. The Bulls finished with their second win of 30 or more points in as many nights. Keep in mind, the Hawks aren't a pushover by any standards, currently holding the fifth seed in the East.
Rose, once again, set a new career high in a statistic, something not very unusual for Bulls fans to see. This time it came from behind the arc, hitting six deep balls in the game, shooting 75 percent from downtown while doing so. He led the Bulls with 30 points alongside his 10 assists in 29 minutes of play.
Luol Deng was the only other Bull who scored in double digits, finishing with 27. He made 10 of his 15 shots while draining all six of his free throws.
The second quarter is where the Bulls really put the hammer down on the Hawks, hitting on 80 percent of their shot attempts from the field. The Bulls led by nearly 30 at the break, and as most teams would have coasted to the finish, the Bulls continued to hustle like the game was on the line: an excellent depiction of what coach Tom Thibodeau has instilled into the heads of this Eastern Conference-leading team.
This game not only put another tally under the "W" for the Bulls, but gave the starters some well-deserved and needed rest for the second straight night. Luol Deng, who is fourth in the league in minutes per game, sat for the entire fourth quarter alongside MVP candidate Derrick Rose.
Which team do you expect to gain the one seed in the East?
The Bulls not only have emerged as a contender for a title, they're now making fans put them down as one of the favorites. After outscoring their last two opponents by 73 points, there is no overlooking this well-coached, led and defensive-minded ball club who has happened to throw up 245 points just this week.
After missing out on the biggest names in the league during free agency, the Bulls have taken a few consolation prizes and turned it into the lottery. These Bulls are seeing red and stampeding to the end of the regular season, and should be a force to be reckoned with during the playoffs, at least if they continue to put the horns to the opponents like they currently are.