NBA Basketball

Hawks get past Bulls for third straight win

(TSX / STATS) -- ATLANTA -- Thabo Sefolosha is best known for being the Atlanta Hawks best defender off the bench. On Wednesday, the veteran showed the offensive side of his game is pretty good.

Sefolosha scored a season-high 20 points and was the defensive catalyst that helped the Atlanta Hawks hold on down the stretch and beat the Chicago Bulls 115-107 on Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

"It felt pretty good tonight," Sefolosha said. "I was glad we got the win tonight."

Sefolosha had 18 points in the first half and finished 8 of 9 from the field with five rebounds. Defensively, he had three steals and made a crucial block on a Rajon Rondo jumper to halt Chicago's momentum and prevent Atlanta from wasting an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.

"It's obvious he had a ton of confidence, made one or two breakaway layups and made a couple shots and started feeling good," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. Confidence is a great thing. That was pretty special."

The Hawks (6-2) had eight players score in double figures, including Dwight Howard with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Millsap with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Dennis Schroder had 13 points but made only 5 of 19 from the field and had four turnovers.

Chicago (4-4) got a season-high 39 points from Jimmy Butler, who added seven assists, six steals and four rebounds, and 25 points from Dwyane Wade, who made his first seven shots from the floor and finished 10 of 17.

The win was the third straight for Atlanta and their fifth in a row against the Bulls. Chicago has lost four of its last five games.

The Atlanta bench outscored Chicago 54-18.

"Credit the whole group, but the guys off the bench were critical for us tonight," Budenholzer said. "Without that punch from Thabo in the first half and from Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Malcolm (Delaney) in the second half. (we might not win). "So much is expected from our starters, for them to get picked up like that is really helpful."

Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said he will re-evaluate how he utilizes the bench.

"Our bench hasn't had very good moments this year," Hoiberg said. "Obviously that wasn't one of the bench's best moments of the year. We believe in those guys. We've just got to get them playing better.

Atlanta closed the first quarter with an 11-3 run, with Sefolosha scoring three of the baskets, to take a 35-27 lead. The Hawks shot 56 percent from the floor in the quarter, but the Bulls were able to stay close thanks to 10 points from Butler.

The Hawks led by as many as 17 points when Millsap made a pull-up jumper to give them a 50-33 lead with 8:57 left. Butler had 14 in the quarter and his 3-pointer with 23 seconds left allowed the Bulls to get within 68-61 at halftime.

The 68 points were the most scored by the Hawks in a half this season and the 61 allowed was the most permitted by an opponent.

"That's a high-powered team and we came out with pretty good energy on the defensive end," Hoiberg said. "They go on a run in the second quarter they built on it and we really struggled on that end of the floor."

Chicago continued to peck away at the lead and was up by five when Doug McDermott completed a fast break with a dunk with 4:08 left to give the Bulls an 85-80 lead.

The Hawks were able to regroup and used a 14-3 run, six points coming from reserve Tim Hardaway Jr., to regain the lead. Atlanta led 94-88 after three quarters when Malcolm Delaney scored on a drive at the buzzer.

Atlanta carried the momentum into the fourth quarter and re-established a 10-point lead when Kris Humphries made two free throws with 10:21 left.

Chicago erased most of an 11-point deficit in the fourth. The Bulls got within 103-101, only to have the Hawks respond with eight straight points to take command.

"The second half we competed with them," Hoiberg said. "I love their fight getting back in it. That's the way we've got to play. We've got to be ready for that fight the minute the ball goes in the air."

NOTES: The Hawks will purchase and operate their own D-League team and play in a new facility that will be built just south of Atlanta in College Park, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The team would begin play in the 2019-20 season. College Park will build and operate the area, but the Hawks' D-League team will be the primary tenant. ... Atlanta C Mike Muscala was suffering from a sore back, but it didn't keep him out of the lineup. ... Inactive for Wednesday's?game for Atlanta were F Tiago Splitter (right hamstring) and F Mike Scott (sore left knee). Inactive for Chicago were G Michael Carter-Williams (left knee, left wrist) and G R.J. Hunter, who is in the D-League. ... Chicago plays again on Thursday at Miami. Atlanta is off until Saturday, when the Hawks host Philadelphia.

Updated November 9, 2016

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