ATLANTA – D.J. Augustin scored 23 points and the Chicago Bulls held off slumping Atlanta for a 105-92 victory Wednesday night, bumping the Hawks out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season.
Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlanta’s runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.
The Hawks lost for the 21st time in 28 games, this one dropping them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed. The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix, two games out after beating Orlando.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points. Atlanta hosts the Cavaliers on Friday night.
The Hawks were up 42-38 with 9 minutes left in the second quarter after Mike Muscala knocked down a couple of free throws.
Chicago took control from there, clamping down defensively and scoring 16 of the next 19 points. The Hawks missed 12 of 13 shots, forced to settle mostly for outside jumpers and botching a couple of easy ones when they did get inside. Augustin capped the spurt with a brilliant hesitation move, freezing the Atlanta defenders before bursting through a gap for an easy layup.
The Bulls led 57-49 at the half and never surrendered the advantage.
Atlanta made several runs, only to have Chicago answer every one of them. With the Hawks down 93-87 and in possession, Taj Gibson swatted away DeMarre Carroll’s driving shot, the Bulls grabbed a loose ball and took off the other way, with Augustin sinking a 3-pointer that led to an Atlanta timeout.
It was another trey by Butler that finished off the Hawks – appropriate enough, since the Bulls went 12 of 25 beyond the arc. Augustin was 4 of 8 from long range, while Butler chipped in with three more.
Six players were in double figures for the Bulls, including Butler and Kirk Hinrich with 17 points apiece.
Millsap had a double-double, also grabbing 11 rebounds. Jeff Teague added 21 points for the Hawks.