Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/2/13
ATLANTA -- "I'm exhausted!" Taj Gibson said, breaking into a huge smile. "I'm exhausted!" He had just scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds in 45 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks after going the full 48 minutes in Friday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Chicago Bulls, playing without three of their starters for the second consecutive night, beat the Atlanta Hawks 93-76 Saturday night at Philips Arena. "They kept giving me electrolytes during the game but I just kept wanting to play," Gibson said. "I know late in the game I ran out of gas and I didn't want that to happen tonight because I felt like we let one slide last night and this team is even better. So I had to go out there and just play a little harder." The whole locker room was giddy, Joakim Noah recording Luol Deng's post-game remarks, as the Bulls laughed and joked. The Bulls (29-18) may have been missing Kirk Hinrich, Noah and Carlos Boozer, but they still had leading scorer Luol Deng. He scored 25 points and pulled down a season-high 14 rebounds. "We played great," Deng said. "I thought we played hard last night. We spoke before the game about how hard we played. We were happy with it but we just told each other if we play hard and we don't win we don't' get rewarded for that. So we definitely wanted to finish the whole game, the whole 48 minutes." Stepping into the starting lineup, Nate Robinson scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds. "We got totally outplayed from start to finish," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. Josh Smith and Al Horford each had double-doubles for the Hawks (26-20); Smith scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Horford scored 14 points to go with 12 rebounds. "They came out and just imposed their will the whole game," Horford said. "They dominated both ends, so you have to give them credit." Jeff Teague scored 16 points, and Kyle Korver had 10, extending his streak of consecutive games in which he made a 3-point basket to 40. The Hawks trailed the Bulls until Smith put them ahead 36-35 on one of his patented jams with 3:08 left in the first half. He put them ahead 38-37 on a running hook shot at 2:39, then, with the Hawks down again, got them to within three points on a 3-foot hook shot. Smith slammed a bucket with 11 seconds left in the second quarter to put the Hawks up at the half, 44-43. They didn't lead again. The Bulls held the Hawks to 27.8 percent shooting in the third quarter, outrebounded them 17-10 and outscored them 26-16. After that, it was a matter of the Bulls not letting up in the fourth quarter, and they didn't, playing stout defense down the stretch. "It was a big night for us," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau understated. "We made tough hustle plays tonight, too. Those lift everyone up." NOTES: The last time these two teams met, Jan. 14 in Chicago, the Hawks scored 20 points in the first half and lost to the Bulls 97-58. "We just got it handed to us that game," Hawks coach Larry Drew said, "from start to finish. We had no presence." Drew once again warned his team not to take the injury-riddled Bulls for granted, noting that, "If you look back at our history, for us, with key players out we haven't done very well, for whatever reason." ... Zaza Pachulia missed his second straight game and his third game in the last five with a sore right Achilles. ... The Hawks signed Jannero Pargo to a second 10-day contract. ... The Bulls lost to the Nets 93-89 Friday night in Brooklyn and were once again missing Kirk Hinrich (right elbow infection) and Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis, right foot). Carlos Boozer, who sat out Friday's game, was on the court before the game testing his sore right hamstring. ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was on the verge of a Jim Mora moment when asked before the game whether, with the playoffs looming, players should take more time to make sure they are completely healthy. "Playoffs?" he asked. "We'd better be worried about the next game. That's how you get in trouble in this league. And we've got a long way to go. ... If you're injured, your responsibility is your rehab. Put everything you have into that each and every day. Everything you have. And if you can play, you play. But to jump to the conclusion that you're in the playoffs? That's crazy. It's crazy."
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