for this game

Horford, Bibby carry Hawks past Bulls

Nov 12, 2008 - 5:42 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Al Horford carried his team for much of the first three quarters Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls, but it was a pair of jump shooters that ensured the Atlanta Hawks their perfect start would continue for at least one more game.

Horford had 27 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks as the Hawks used a number of key 3-pointers down the stretch to stay unbeaten, upending the Bulls, 113-108, and capturing their sixth straight win to start the season.

"It was just a monster game for him (Horford), it was certainly the best game we have had since we got him," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "He controlled everything on both sides of the court and made his shots inside as well."

"He had a big game for them no doubt," Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He really controlled the glass, but it was our transition defense that really killed us. We gave up to many easy buckets."

Atlanta received a stiff test from Chicago throughout, including a number of rallies in the fourth quarter, but Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans combined for five long-range makes to answer every time.

Bibby dropped in 22 points on the night, nine in the final session on 3-pointers.

"No one in the NBA expected this start except us, we are all playing good and we are all playing together," Bibby said. "If we continue to work like this, the only people who can stop is ourselves."

After Chicago had cut a nine-point deficit to two, 85-83, Marvin Williams knocked down a pair of free throws and Bibby sank shots from deep on consecutive possessions to open a 10-point edge for Atlanta.

The Bulls appeared poised to cut the deficit down to six after Thabo Sefolosha had a steal and drove to the basket with less than five minutes remaining.

But after Sefolosha missed the layup, Joe Johnson dished to Bibby in transition and the veteran guard sank a wide-open three to extend the Hawks' lead to 11.

Johnson struggled from the field all night, knocking down just 4-of-16 from the field for 17 points, but dished out four of his eight assists in the fourth.

"Our defense was terrible, we weren't able to pick up guys in transition," Chicago forward Luol Deng said. "It was a poor effort by the whole team on defense."

All five of Atlanta's starters scored in double digits, with Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia adding 13 and 12, respectively.

Evans came off the bench for 17 points and dashed Chicago's hopes with a pair of threes in the final 2 1/2 minutes to help Atlanta to its best start since an 11-0 opening to the 1997-98 campaign.

"It's has been an excellent start for us," Woodson said. "Coming out of camp I couldn't have scripted it any better. It's even nicer to win this game with one of our key guys out (Josh Smith)."

Smith, who missed his second consecutive game with a high left ankle sprain, is expected to be out two to four weeks.

Chicago got within four on two separate occasions in the final minute, but Johnson sank four free throws to maintain the lead for Atlanta.

In his best game so far this season, rookie Derrick Rose collected 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to pace the Bulls.

The Bulls' point guard pulled a muscle in his back during the first quarter but was able to stay in the game.

Ben Gordon scored 19 points and Deng added 19 and 10 rebounds for Chicago, which held a 52-44 edge in rebounding.

Andres Nocioni added 20 points off the bench for the Bulls.

"We are playing with a lot of energy but we are not playing very well," Nocioni said. "At this point, we play well for three or four minutes but then we start making mistakes. It is time for us to step up and do the things it's going to take to win games."