ATLANTA — Early on Tuesday night, the Bulls looked lost.
Perhaps their minds were still in South Beach after getting drubbed by Miami on Sunday.
They trailed 26-12 to an injury-depleted Hawks team whose starting bigs were the ancient and 6-foot-9 Elton Brand and the 6-8 DeMarre Carroll. Kyle Korver drained two 3-pointers in the game’s first 50 seconds.
But then the Bulls turned it on, took a second-quarter lead and made some key plays down the stretch in an entertaining 107-103 road victory.
Mike Dunleavy led the way with 22 points, and both Joakim Noah (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (17 and 11) had double-doubles.
The Bulls moved the ball beautifully, finishing with 24 assists to 12 turnovers.
The crumbling Hawks lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games. They played Tuesday without injured big men Al Horford, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon. A knee bruise sidelined do-everything forward Paul Millsap.
The Hawks might feel as if they played the final few minutes outmanned — if you count the refs.
Carroll swatted a 3-point shot from a double-clutching Kirk Hinrich, but a foul was called. Officials reviewed it, and the crowd figured the call would somehow be changed. Instead the ruling came down — three foul shots. Hinrich drained all of them for a 104-103 lead with 40 seconds to play.
The Hawks were in position to score when coach Mike Budenholzer charged onto the court to call for time, colliding into referee Bennie Adams in the process. The timeout negated a Mike Scott 3-pointer.
And then this happened: As the Hawks vied to take the lead with 23 seconds to play, Jeff Teague stepped on the end-line.
After a Hinrich free throw, Scott attempted a game-tying 3. Noah got his hand in and knocked the ball away.
Needing to foul, Teague shoved Hinrich, who needed to be restrained by Noah from going after the Hawks guard.
The game ended with the ball in Hinrich’s hands, a satisfying conclusion for the Bulls veteran.