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Playoff Box Score: Bulls Move On

By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 13, 2011 3:00PM

Bring on the Heat! In emphatic fashion, the Bulls eliminated the Atlanta Hawks from the playoffs, winning 93-73 to take their Eastern conference semi-final series four games to two.

From the opening tip, the game was never in doubt as the Bulls showed energy and Carlos Boozer showed why he was the marquee free agent signing last summer. Booz scored the Bulls' first four points, nine in the first quarter and 23 for the game. He also led the team with 10 rebounds. At the end of the first quarter, the Bulls held a 10-point lead, a margin they took into halftime. Boozer also set the tone in the second half with an early basket as the Bulls extended their lead throughout the third quarter, holding a 70-53 advantage entering the final period. The Bulls never backed down, extending the lead to as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter. The Bulls' relentless defense held the Hawks to fewer than 20 points in every quarter except for the fourth.

Boozer's monster night allowed Derrick Rose to lay off the heavy shooting. Rose scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Rose also had 12 assists as he got his teammates involved. Luol Deng scored 13, Noah 11 points and Taj Gibson reached double figures with 10 points. Defensively, Chicago shut down most of the Hawks options. Joe Johnson scored 19 and Josh Smith 18, but the Bulls held both Jamal Crawford and Al Horford to two of 10 shooting. Jeff Teague, who sprained his wrist early in the game but returned, scored just four.

The star-laden Miami team knocked Boston out of the playoffs on Wednesday, so the Bulls get to face LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the Eastern Conference Finals. How fitting that the free agents the Bulls pursued but couldn't land now face the team they spurned, but holds the top seed and home court advantage? We're expecting an exciting, tightly contested battle between the East's top two teams. Game one is Sunday evening at the United Center, pushed forward a day thanks to Oprah. (7:00 p.m. TNT / ESPN 1000 AM)