CHICAGO – Tom Thibodeau sent a strong wake-up message to his team at a heated shootaround Monday morning. He got the response he was looking for.
Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 18 points and the Bulls held Atlanta to a franchise-low 20 points in the first half of a 97-58 victory over the Hawks on Monday night.
“Early this morning, Tibs was going crazy on us at shootaround. Just waking up early in the morning and having Tibs just screaming at you and screaming at you and screaming at you,” center Joakim Noah said, “we didn’t want that to happen to us again.
“We were ready for this one. We had the right mindset, played with the edge and we rebounded the ball really well. Everyone came in and stepped up.”
Reserve forward Mike Scott scored 10 points to lead Atlanta as none of the starters reached double figures. Josh Smith and Kyle Korver had nine points each.
Jeff Teague had a layup with 7.9 seconds left to prevent the Hawks’ lowest scoring total in franchise history.
Atlanta has lost five straight on the road and six of seven overall.
“This was very, very embarrassing,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “From where we were as a team to where we’re at right now, we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor. And why that’s happened I really can’t put my finger on it.”
The Bulls held the Hawks to five points in the second quarter and led 48-20 at the break. Ivan Johnson had a basket for the Hawks with 2:54 left in the first quarter, and Atlanta did not score again until Al Horford’s tip with 5:15 left in the second. The Hawks missed 17 consecutive shots during the drought while getting outscored 14-0.
They finished the 2 for 21 from the field in the second quarter, with Smith making a free throw and a jumper for Atlanta’s other points. The Hawks shot 20.5 percent on 8-of-39 shooting in the first half. Josh Smith was 3 for 10 and Horford 2 for 8 in the opening two periods.
“The disturbing thing is the effort part. I shouldn’t have to come out and coach effort every single night. Effort is what your being paid, to bring effort every single night. Maybe it’s the chemistry right now,” Drew said. “I’m going to have to do something to kind of jump-start us again.
“Right now we’ve flatlined. Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally we have flattened. I’ve got to find a way to resuscitate this team.”
Boozer had 14 points and Deng eight to help the Bulls to their halftime lead. Noah had 12 rebounds in the half and finished with 16 boards and nine points.
The Bulls set a record for the fewest points allowed, eclipsing the previous mark of 59 by Orlando last March 19. Atlanta’s 20 points in the first half also set a Chicago record for the fewest allowed in a half, bettering the 22 scored by the Knicks in 1999. The Bulls also limited New York to five points in the second quarter of that game.
“We have to play a certain way,” Thibodeau said. “When we came out I thought Joakim and Carlos set the tone.”
The Hawks’ previous scoring lows were six points in a quarter (at Minnesota) in 1994, and 25 in a half — accomplished three times, most recently against New Orleans in 2011.
Noah wasn’t surprise by the defensive performance.
“I wasn’t shocked, but our mindset was more be ready for the first 5 or 6 minutes of that third quarter. We had been in positions where we were up by 25, 26 points and lost before. So we feel no lead is big enough,” Noah said.
Tensions heated up in the third quarter. After Hamilton was called for an offensive foul on Devin Harris, Harris pushed Hinrich hard to the floor as he was attempting a layup. Hinrich had to be restrained by teammates after he rushed toward Harris, who was called for a flagrant one. In separate incidents, Teague and Smith were called for technicals in the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t buy a bucket and we weren’t getting any calls going to the basket. I guess we’ve got to grind a little harder when it’s more adversity hitting us in the face,” Smith said.
Taj Gibson, who had five blocks, got fans on their feet with a thunderous dunk over Anthony Tolliver to put the Bulls up 79-47 with 7:13 left.
NOTES: The Bulls’ biggest lead was 44 points. ... In the teams’ last meeting, the Hawks beat the Bulls 92-75 in Atlanta on Dec. 22. ... Hawks G Anthony Morrow missed the game with a lower back injury.