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Hawks stay perfect

Horford scores career-high 27 for Atlanta

POSTED: November 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
BY PAUL BEATTY/The Associated Press

Atlanta Hawks' Zaza Pachulia, left, goes up for a rebound against Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah in the first quarter on Tuesday in Chicago.

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CHICAGO Al Horford scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 17 rebounds Tuesday night as the Atlanta Hawks remained unbeaten through six games with a 113-108 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Atlanta’s start is its best since the 1997-98 Hawks won their first 11 games.

With leading scorer Joe Johnson suffering through a poor shooting night, the Hawks held off the short-handed Bulls.

Mike Bibby added 22 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to fend off a Bulls rally. The Hawks had six players in double figures, including Johnson, who finished with 17 — eight below his average. He shot 4-for-16.

Atlanta got a lift off the bench from Maurice Evans, who scored 17 points including two late 3-pointers in the final quarter.

Rookie Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 26 points to match his career high and had a career-best 10 rebounds. Andres Nocioni chipped in 20 points.

The Bulls played without Kirk Hinrich (thumb surgery), Larry Hughes (shoulder) and Drew Gooden (ankle). Atlanta was without Josh Smith (ankle).

Johnson, averaging 25.2 points, struggled with his shot, missing eight of his first 10 shots. But the Hawks got 16 first-half points from Horford and 10 from Zaza Pachulia to take a 55-52 halftime lead.

Atlanta expanded the lead to 75-63 late in the third quarter with a quick 8-0 run capped by Horford’s dunk. The Hawks had a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter before the Bulls rallied.

Nocioni took a nice pass from Joakim Noah for a layup and Luol Deng’s dunk and two free throws seconds later brought the Bulls within 85-83 with about 10 minutes left.

But two free throws by Marvin Williams and then consecutive 3-pointers from Bibby following Bulls’ turnovers quickly re-established a 10-point lead for Atlanta. The Hawks then held on with Evans’ two 3-pointers keeping the Bulls at bay.

Noah got his first start of the season for the Bulls in place of Gooden, and Ben Gordon his second start in the Bulls’ thin backcourt. Gordon and Deng finished with 19 points each.

Horford outplayed Noah, his former University of Florida teammate on two NCAA championship teams, by using his strength and leaping ability on the inside. Noah finished with two points and eight rebounds.



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