The Atlanta Hawks will try to bounce back from an overtime loss less than 24 hours earlier when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Atlanta is coming off a 135-121 road setback against the Miami Heat in which it was outscored 18-4 in overtime. Despite a competitive effort in regulation, the Hawks were unable to get a second consecutive win -- a minor accomplishment they have managed only once this season, in the first two games.
Chicago can relate to the Hawks' sub-.500 struggles.
The Bulls have lost three games in a row and will look for their first win since Dec. 4 when they tip off against Atlanta. Chicago is coming off a 93-92 defeat against the visiting Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Zach LaVine had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but came up short.
"The starters' job is to come back in, get re-engaged in the game and close it out," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said after his team let another tight game slip away. "That's what (the Raptors) did. They brought their guys in, and they closed the game out. We have to learn how to do that. That's the growth plate. We're close, we're right there. That's the next step."
For the Bulls to take a step forward Wednesday, they will have to figure out a way to stop Hawks guard Trae Young. The 21-year-old Oklahoma product already has 12 games this season with 30 points or more.
Young reportedly has grown frustrated with the Hawks' leadership about not getting him more help on the roster. However, he continues to compete, as evidenced by taking a knee to the face and coming back to help Atlanta beat the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.
"I thought I was going to be out forever," Young said with a swollen lip after the game. "But I just cut my lip, though. It felt worse than it looks."
Young finished with 21 points and nine assists against the Heat.
One player who can help Young is small forward De'Andre Hunter, who will look to build upon an impressive game Tuesday. The rookie scored a career-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-10 success from beyond the arc.
The Bulls are led in scoring by LaVine, who is averaging 22.2 points per game but has been prone to boom-or-bust performances. Lauri Markkanen is second on the team at 14.2 points per game but also has battled inconsistency, particularly when it comes to his long-range shooting.
Bulls point guard Coby White could be a player to watch on Wednesday. The rookie recently has taken on expanded responsibilities as a floor leader for the second unit, and he has the ability to go on a hot shooting streak, as evidenced by four games of 25-plus points this season.
Boylen said he remains confident despite his team's latest skid.
"I coach by faith," Boylen told reporters. "I coach and teach every day on where I think we're going to be. When that's going to happen, when that's going to break through, I'm not sure. But I'm going to keep coaching that way."
--Field Level Media
After OT loss, Hawks visit Bulls to cap back-to-back set
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