ATLANTA — Home or away, with or without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls just keep on winning.
Luol Deng scored 22 points and led a flurry of 3-pointers as the NBA-leading Bulls took another game on the road, blowing out the Atlanta Hawks 98-77 on Wednesday night.
Deng was 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and the Bulls finished 9 of 16 overall to improve their NBA-best record away from home to 21-6 and their overall mark to 41-11, even while missing Rose for the eighth straight game with a shoulder injury.
The Bulls haven’t missed a beat, winning six times without their MVP.
“We played great,” Deng said. “Guys got easy looks because of the ball movement.”
Chicago built an 18-point lead in the second quarter. The Hawks scored the final six points of the half, then started the third quarter on a 10-2 run to get to 56-52.
It was all Bulls from there. They ripped off 20 of the next 26 points and a hefty contingent of Chicago fans turned Atlanta’s arena into the United Center South, breaking out the “Let’s Go Bulls!” chant.
“The thing we did well is, even when they made their run, we responded right away,” Deng said. “It was just a great team effort.”
Atlanta’s frustration boiled over midway through the fourth quarter. The Bulls took off on another fast break, leaving Joe Johnson as the only man back against three Chicago players. Carlos Boozer flipped a behind-the-back pass to Taj Gibson, who was tackled – football style – by Johnson, both players going down in the middle of the lane.
Amazingly, Johnson wasn’t even called for a flagrant foul, but the Bulls were hardly flustered. The final minutes were nothing more than a highlight show by the road team, plus a chance for Chicago’s fans to chant for little-used Brian Scalabrine to get in the game.
He checked in with a little over a minute remaining.
Deng had plenty of help. Boozer scored 20 points, Gibson added 19, while Joakim Noah and John Lucas chipped in with 10 apiece. Josh Smith led Atlanta with 19 points.