Wednesday December 2nd, 2015 1:57AM

Augustin leads Bulls past slumping Hawks 105-92

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- The Chicago Bulls strengthened their hold on home-court advantage in the playoffs, and made it a little tougher for the Atlanta Hawks to extend their season.

For that, the Bulls can thank D.J. Augustin.


Keeping up his inspired play, Augustin scored 23 points as Chicago held off slumping Atlanta for a 105-92 victory Wednesday night, bumping the Hawks out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season.

Chicago stretched its lead to 2 1-2 games over Brooklyn for home court in the opening round of the playoffs. The Bulls may have lost Derrick Rose to major knee injuries two years in a row, but they are 35-20 since signing Augustin in mid-December.

"He's saved our season," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "D.J. can beat you a lot of different ways."

The performance came three days after Augustin scored a career-high 33 points against Boston.

"D-Rose is the face of this team," Augustin said. "I'm just trying to come in, just trying to help us out, do whatever I can do to help us win and go forward in the playoffs."

Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlanta's runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.

"We just want to finish the rest of the season strong," Augustin said.

The Hawks are heading in the opposite direction, losing for the 21st time in 28 games. This one dropped them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed.

"We still control our own destiny," DeMarre Carroll said. "But now things got more interesting."

The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix, two games out after beating Orlando. The Hawks host the Cavaliers on Friday night.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeff Teague added 21 points. But Kyle Korver, with 12 points, was the only other Atlanta player in double figures.

Everyone else went 13 of 32 from the field.

"We're a new team," Carroll said, referring to Atlanta's massive turnover the last two summers. "This year is not going to make or break us. Just to be talking about making the playoffs is amazing."

The Hawks were up 42-38 with 9 minutes left in the second quarter after Mike Muscala knocked down a couple of free throws.

Chicago took control from there, clamping down defensively and scoring 16 of the next 19 points. The Hawks missed 12 of 13 shots, forced to settle mostly for outside jumpers and botching a couple of easy ones when they did get inside. Augustin capped the spurt with a brilliant hesitation move, freezing the Atlanta defenders before bursting through a gap for an easy layup.

The Bulls led 57-49 at the half and never surrendered the advantage.

Atlanta made several runs, only to have Chicago answer every one of them. With the Hawks down 93-87 and in possession, Taj Gibson swatted away Carroll's driving shot, the Bulls grabbed a loose ball and took off the other way, with Augustin sinking a 3-pointer that led to an Atlanta timeout.

It was another trey by Butler that finished off the Hawks - appropriate enough, since the Bulls went 12 of 25 beyond the arc. Augustin was 4 of 8 from long range, while Butler chipped in with three more.

In contrast to the Hawks, six players were in double figures for the Bulls, including Butler and Kirk Hinrich with 17 points apiece.

Atlanta has eight games left to pull out its seventh straight playoff appearance.

"This team is competitive," Elton Brand said. "There's no quit in us. We're going to play it out until the end."

NOTES: Chicago's Joakim Noah had 10 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Bulls swept the season series 4-0 and now have won six straight against the Hawks since last season. ... Thibodeau shrugged off the 200th career victory. "I've got a good team," he said after improving his record to 200-105 in four seasons.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 11 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 11 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 11 months ago )
Pits will be tight as Chili Bowl entry count hits 316
TULSA, OK - The 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire is on track to be a record smashing event, with the entry count climbing over the 300 mark for the first time to 316 entries confirming 303 drivers for the indoor spectacular happening Tuesday, January 13 through Saturday, January 17 at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa, OK.
9:59AM ( 11 months ago )
Falcons fire Mike Smith after 2nd straight losing season
Mike Smith's status as the winningest coach in Falcons history wasn't enough to save his job. Owner Arthur Blank said he fired Smith on Monday because in his "heart of hearts" he didn't believe Smith could take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
7:58PM ( 11 months ago )
New promoters in place for 2015 at Senoia Raceway
SENOIA, GA - Lease papers have been signed and a team of new promoters is in place for the upcoming stock car racing season at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA.
6:00AM ( 11 months ago )
Professional Sports
Report: Georgia expected to name Smart next football coach
The University of Georgia is expected to name Kirby Smart, the current Defensive Coordinator for the University of Alabama, as its new head football coach.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
Boys basketball: Trojans hold on to stay undefeated, 54-53
The North Hall boys basketball team held on to defeat Oconee County, 54-53 on Tuesday in Gainesville.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
Girls basketball: Flowery Branch opens 8-AAAAA play with win over Clarke Central
The Flowery Branch girls opened their Region 8-AAAAA schedule with a 67-53 win over Clark Central Tuesday night on the road.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
Boys basketball: Red Elephants too much for Heritage
The Gainesville boys basketball team pulled out an 85-79 win over Heritage on Tuesday in Conyers.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:44PM ( 2 hours ago )
Boys basketball: Banks County stomps Commerce, 81-37
The Banks County boys basketball team dominated local rival Commerce 81-37 on Tuesday.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:42PM ( 2 hours ago )