CHICAGO – There was excitement over the start of a regular season, the team’s first game that counted in 288 days, along with the start of a new era under leadership on the court and in the front office.
On Wednesday, that lasted till tipoff.
Over the course of 48 minutes, the Hawks showed the Bulls just how much room they have left to go to return to competitiveness as a new regime takes over. They led by 13 at the end of one, 24 points at halftime and built the lead to 40 points in the third quarter.
They’d settle with a more pedestrian 20-point triumph – 124-104 – that quelled some of the excitement of the team’s first game since March 10th. Atlanta’s dominance was the rudest of wake-up calls for the group as they look ahead to 71 more games in this shortened season.
Atlanta shot 53.8 percent from the floor, with Trae Young burning the Bulls for 37 points, with 27 coming in the first half. All five Hawks’ starters scored in double digits with two more coming off the bench to do the same.
They ripped off 83 points in the first 24 minutes then went on a 25-9 run to begin the third quarter, pushing the lead to 40 points on Bruno Fernando’s dunk with 4:22 to go.
Meanwhile, the Bulls’ young lineup couldn’t come close to matching that, shooting 8-for-35 from behind the three-point line. That included 1-of-8 for Zach LaVine who finished with 22 points while Coby White (2-11, 1-7 on three-pointers) had just nine in his opening effort.
Lauri Markkanen, who didn’t reach an agreement with the team on Tuesday for a new contract, did hit 4-of-6 three-pointer as part of his 21 points night as one of the Bulls who enjoyed a strong night.
Yet he was one of the few, as this new Bulls’ era got a big wake up call after nine months of being on the sidelines.