Originally created 02/14/01

Bulls 96, Hawks 92



CHICAGO -- After one month, nine days and 16 losses, the Chicago Bulls' franchise-record losing streak is over.

Marcus Fizer and Ron Mercer scored 19 apiece as the Bulls blew a 17-point lead before rallying for a 96-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.

It was Chicago's first victory since Jan. 4 - a stretch of 16 games that spanned two presidencies. In the final minute, knowing a victory was finally close, the Bulls celebrated every made shot and every foul they took. When the final buzzer sounded, streamers spewed from above the baskets.

The loss did extend one losing streak. The Hawks have now lost six in a row.

The Bulls had six players in double figures. Ron Artest and Elton Brand had 17 each, and Brand had 15 rebounds. Bryce Drew had 10 points and nine assists.

Lorenzen Wright and Jason Terry had 22 each for the Hawks. Dikembe Mutombo had 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Despite shooting just 25 percent in the first quarter and trailing by 14 after one period, the Hawks came back and led 86-81 after Mutombo made a pair of free throws with 5:29 left. But Atlanta had just two field goals in the last 6:24.

The Bulls, meanwhile, got inspired play in the last three minutes from Brand, Fizer and Mercer. Fizer made a pair of free throws and Brand hit a jumper from the top of the key to give Chicago a 92-89 lead with 1:38 left.

After a timeout, Fizer saved a possession for the Bulls, diving for the ball with such force the momentum carried him about five rows into the stands. The Bulls held onto the ball, though, and Brand scored on a 15-footer.

Chris Crawford made the second of two free throws to cut the lead to 94-90 with 40 seconds left, but Mercer scored on a layup and the Bulls knew they finally had a victory.

The Bulls had a 68-54 lead with 6:28 left in the third, but they ran into one of their familiar late-game stalls, making just three more field goals the rest of the quarter and shooting only 28 percent for the period.

Atlanta didn't waste any time taking advantage of Chicago's drought. Wright made a pair of free throws, Terry hit a 13-footer and Crawford dunked to get Atlanta within 68-60 with 5:07 left.

It was the first time the Hawks were within double digits since the final minutes of the first quarter.

The Bulls pushed the lead back to 74-65 on a 10-foot jumper from Artest with 2:50 left in the quarter, but Wright sparked a 10-2 run with a 10-footer.

Atlanta tied the game on Terry's layup with 10:20 left, and took the lead on a pair of Brevin Knight free throws with 7:26 left.

Notes:

The Bulls' 17-point lead in the second quarter was their largest in 11 games. They led by 20 on Jan. 15 at Orlando. They went on to lose that game. ... Atlanta coach Lon Kruger has been watching his old team with pride this season. Illinois is No. 4 this week, its highest ranking since 1990. "They've done great," Kruger said. "It's fun to watch them play well. ... Bill (Self) and his staff have done an excellent job." Though the Illini are 19-5 and the Hawks are 16-33, Kruger said he has no regrets about the move he made. "I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on what could have been," he said. ... The Bulls had a 32-20 advantage in assists.