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Bet on the NBAWhen the Bulls perform a balanced effort against opponents, they can win games and shut down opposing defenses with ease.

That is what happened last night as the Hawks could not get their offense going in either the first or fourth quarters, dropping to the Bulls 95-83 in Game Five of their semifinals playoff series. It now looks increasingly likely that this series will wrap up in Game Six if Chicago can get decent offensive performances from anyone else besides Derrick Rose.

Rose had his points last night, to be sure. He scored 33 points, 11 of them in the fourth quarter. But after leading by 15 points early in the game, the Atlanta Hawks kept coming back, and traded a one-point lead with the Bulls for a few moments in the third quarter. The Chicago offense was struggling to put in baskets, going for close to six minutes without a field goal and making the fans in the United Center increasingly nervous.

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But the Chicago Bulls usually do not go down to defeat quite so easily. They tightened up their defense, holding the Hawks to a mere 15 points in the final quarter of the game, while the Chicago offense finally got moving. Taj Gibson came off the bench and scored all of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, meaning he and Rose combined for 22 of the team's 26 total fourth quarter points.

Again, the Bulls struggled with shooting, making 48.6% from the field but only going 4-of-14 from three-point territory. They also missed a few easy points from the free throw line, hitting 21 of 28. The Hawks, though, were way off, hitting only 1-of-12 from behind the arc, and did not get to the foul line nearly as many times as Chicago, making 14-of-17 free throws.

While this series is far from over, the Bulls are playing well more consistently, getting their offense going earlier against the Hawks than they did in the first round against the Pacers. This has really helped the team avoid getting into a 10-point hole in the first quarter from which they have to spend the rest of the game battling back. The Hawks, as well, are playing their best basketball of the season in this series, but will it be enough to knock off Chicago?


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