Horford's hot as the Hawks halt the Bulls' 6-0 run

Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks on Jan 5 in Atlanta, US.
Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks on Jan 5 in Atlanta, US. PHOTO: AFP

ATLANTA • Al Horford made sure the Chicago Bulls' six-game winning streak in the National Basketball Association came to an end and that the Atlanta Hawks had a significant home victory.

The Atlanta centre scored 33 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out six assists and blocked four shots, as the Hawks led all the way in a 120-105 victory over the Bulls on Saturday night.

"We understood that this was a good measuring-stick game for us," Horford said.

"We knew that the effort had to be there more than ever. We've been playing hard, but we knew we had to play harder. From the beginning of the game, we did that."

The Hawks (23-15) placed six players in double figures while shooting 52.1 per cent and forced the Bulls (22-13) into 22 turnovers.

MORE AGGRESSION

We need to continue to do what we did today, moving the ball and hustling on defence consistently. As a team, I feel that we sometimes have lapses in those areas.

AL HORFORD, Hawks centre, on the team's inconsistent effort so far this NBA season.

Forward Paul Millsap had 18 points for the Hawks and Mike Scott scored 14 off the bench.

Guards Dennis Schroeder and Jeff Teague had eight and six assists, respectively, while Teague and forward Kyle Korver each had three steals.

"We need to continue to do what we did today, moving the ball and hustling on defence consistently," Horford added.

"As a team, I feel that we sometimes have lapses in those areas."

While the Hawks have the third-most victories in the Eastern Conference, they have not been able to play consistently at the high level that pushed them to the No. 1 seed last season.

Horford, who got Atlanta off to a fast start with 11 first-quarter points, made 15 of 21 shots and his point total was one shy of the career best for the eight-year veteran.

"Al Horford was very vintage," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Everyone kind of followed his lead."

Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, but Chicago showed little intensity except during a third-quarter flurry.

With Butler scoring 14 points, the Bulls cut a 13-point half-time deficit to 75-75 with four minutes left in the third quarter, thanks in part to a run of 10 unanswered points.

However, the Hawks got a rebound basket from forward Scott at the third-quarter buzzer to go up 89-83 and started the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run for a 102-85 lead.

"We got up and down, guys were running the floor, we rolled to the basket, got easy lobs and things like that," said Teague, after finishing with 12 points.

"That's how we have to play, for us to be a good team."

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was puzzled about their sluggish start to the game, saying: "For whatever reason, we're coming out with more energy in the third quarter than we are in the first and that's got to change. We're climbing uphill."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Horford's hot as the Hawks halt the Bulls' 6-0 run'. Print Edition | Subscribe