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Playoff Box Score: Bulls Even Series

By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 5, 2011 3:00PM

We just knew the NBA's newly crowned MVP wasn't going to allow his team to lose again at home to a lower seed. The Hawks hung tough, but the Bulls maintained a lead for most of the game on the way to an 86-73 victory to even the Eastern Conference Semifinals at a game apiece.

Atlanta held a small early advantage, but the Bulls grabbed the lead for good with a couple minutes remaining in the first quarter. They held a 25-22 advantage and the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 11 at halftime. In the second half, the Bulls opened up leads of as many as 14 points. While the Hawks narrowed the Bulls' advantage to as few as six in the fourth quarter, they never really challenged the Bulls down the stretch as the Bulls closed out the game on a 9-2 run.

Derrick Rose scored 25 points, but shot just 10 of 27 from the field, including just one of eight from behind the three point arc. Clearly, his sprained ankle is bothering him, although he looked better driving to the hoop than in the previous game. Joakim Noah had a big night, putting back others' missed shots to the tune of 19 points and 14 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. Luol Deng chipped in 14 points and 12 boards. Carlos Boozer remains unable to get going offensively, but collected 11 rebounds as the Bulls collectively out rebounded the Hawks 58-39. Joe Johnson, the Hawks star in game one with 34 points, managed to score 16 while Jamal Crawford's production fell from 22 to 11. Jeff Teague, replacing the injured Kirk Hinrich, led the Hawks with 21.

The series now shifts to Atlanta, where the Bulls and Hawks face off at Philips Arena in game three on Friday. (6 p.m. ESPN, ESPN AM 1000)