(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks have lost three in a row on three separate occasions this season and hope to avoid a season-high fourth straight setback when they visit the Chicago Bulls Tuesday at the United Center.
Everything is coming in threes for the Hawks, as they kick off a three-game road trip against Chicago, Toronto and Indiana, and own a 9-15 record outside of Philips Arena.
The Hawks have suffered losses to the Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, and Saturday's 79-76 decision versus the Grizz was the most recent defeat. Paul Millsap continued to carry the load with 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals. He is the only player in the East and just the second in the NBA to average at least 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 block.
He was disappointed in the loss to the Grizzlies. Both teams shot no better than 43 percent from the floor and Atlanta committed 21 turnovers. The 76 points scored were a season low.
"It's tough, we're a better offensive team than that," said Millsap. "Our defense was great, we just didn't execute down the stretch at all."
Millsap, who was recently selected as an All-Star, has a steal in 21 straight games, an impressive feat for a man of his stature at 6-foot-8, 258 pounds. He has 10 or more rebounds in four straight games and 20-plus points in nine of the last 13 contests.
Millsap has taken over inside after Al Horford underwent pectoral surgery.
DeMarre Carroll was the only other double-digit scorer for the Hawks in Memphis and finished with 13 points. Jeff Teague had only eight points and Kyle Korver hit a trio of 3-pointers to extend his NBA record of making at least one deep ball to 118 games.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are just a half-game behind the Hawks for the No. 4 spot in the conference standings. Washington is also just a half-game off the pace.
The Bulls are back in the friendly confines of the United Center after going 3-3 on a recent western sojourn, which culminated with Sunday's 92-86 victory over the injury-ravaged Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls had a 34-23 lead after one and bounced back from a shaky second quarter to post a 25-16 advantage in the third stanza.
Los Angeles scored 24 of the 39 points in the final period, but it wasn't enough to keep Chicago from winning for the seventh time in 12 tries. Joakim Noah had 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Taj Gibson (18), Kirk Hinrich (17) and D.J. Augustin (15) rounded out the double-digit scorers.
"Gibson set the tone for us early. We wanted to throw the first punch," said Noah, who has pulled down 10 or more rebounds in 21 of 22 games and is posting an average of 13.2 points and 13.4 rebounds in his last 19.
Gibson has filled in nicely as a starter with Carlos Boozer out with a calf injury. Gibson is averaging 18.6 points in seven starts this season and has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 contests.
Boozer has missed two straight games and is day-to-day. The Bulls, who will also host Brooklyn and are 13-10 at home, have a 4-1 record without Boozer in the lineup this season.
Chicago is averaging an NBA-worst 92.1 ppg, but is second in the league in opponents' scoring at 92.8 ppg. The Hawks have a 102.1 points per game average this season and lost to the Bulls, 91-84, on Jan. 4 in the Windy City. Mike Dunleavy led the Bulls with 20 points in that one, and both Millsap and Teague paced Atlanta with 16 apiece.
The Bulls have won eight of 10 matchups with the Hawks and five in a row at home. Atlanta is only 4-15 in its previous 19 trips to the United Center.