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Bulls tame from beginning to end
When the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks meet with a week left in the season you can throw out all the records.
These two teams wish you would.
But the NBA makes its teams finish the season, so the Hawks did in going to 26-53 with a 116-101 victory over the 22-57 Bulls.
Though Kirk Hinrich had a career-high 29 points, the Bulls played with little interest, not to mention defense, in a game the Hawks dominated throughout.
Stephen Jackson led Atlanta with 36 points and Bob Sura had a triple-double before the end of the third quarter.
"I don't think the defense on either end was very impressive," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said in an understatement. "But I felt like they had a lot of life. They got out on the break on us. They probably had 40 fast-break points (a season-high 29 for Bulls' opponents).
"I felt they showed up and tried to win a pro basketball game and we had a hard time doing that."
Skiles allowed himself a wish before the game.
"I'm hoping they'll play like they have a sense of pride for finishing the season, that they play like they haven't already quit," Skiles said.
Occasionally coming within 10 feet of the Atlanta shooters, the Bulls fell behind 26-15 eight minutes into the game and trailed 37-24 after one quarter. It equaled the most points scored against the Bulls this season in the first quarter. Then the Bulls quickly fell behind 45-26.
It wasn't until late in the third quarter, in the midst of a 16-0 Hawks run, that the fans started booing as the Bulls fell behind 27 points. They came back with a makeshift lineup of substitutes and made a 15-2 run before the Hawks pulled away.
A year ago, the Bulls were 28-51 but had some hope because Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler and Jamal Crawford were playing well. Friday night, Curry and Crawford again were benched for the fourth quarter, Chandler skipped the game to have Lasik eye surgery and there seemed little hope among those players remaining.
Bits: Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf conceded the Bulls might have to release Scottie Pippen and pay him his full salary next season if Pippen is unable to play, as expected. "All those years when Scottie said he was underpaid, we said he signed a contract. If this time, we made a bad deal then you have to live with that [and pay him off]," Reinsdorf said.
Pippen said he didn't know which game would be his last, but was hoping not to be with the team for the final game in Indianapolis.
Kendall Gill, out for the rest of the season after a recurrence of migrane headaches, said he plans to play one more season. "Now that I've fulfilled my dream [of playing for my hometown team], I want to win," Gill said. "That's why I'm going to put everything into getting ready this summer." The Bulls are not expected to retain Gill.