CHICAGO -- The Atlanta Hawks are winning the games they are supposed to lately.
The Hawks won 11 of their last 14 contests heading into Wednesday night's road test against the Chicago Bulls. But despite their recent success, the Hawks enter the game looking to bounce back from a game they feel they should have won -- a 115-105 setback against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night -- in which they fell behind early and never recovered.
Atlanta allowed the Clippers to dictate the pace early, which the Hawks never recovered from in the 10-point loss.
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"That's how we were supposed to play coming out of that game -- with that kind of urgency," forward Paul Milsap told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "And we didn't. And we paid for it."
The Hawks managed to lose to the Clippers, who were playing without stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. And although Atlanta got to within five points of in the fourth quarter, allowing the Clippers to jump out to an early double-digit lead bit the Hawks.
"We may have taken it a bit for granted," Milsap told reporters.
Heading to Chicago, the Hawks (26-19) realize they can't do that again against a Bulls team that hasn't been able to establish any kind of rhythm over the season's first 46 games.
Yet for all their up-and-down play this season, the Bulls again got to .500 with a 100-92 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night. In the win, Chicago (23-23) made a change at point guard as Jerian Grant started in place of Michael Carter-Williams, who started the previous 12 games at the point for the Bulls as coach Fred Hoiberg continues to experiment with different combinations.
The decision didn't set well with Carter-Williams.
"It is kind of frustrating," Carter-Williams told reporters Tuesday. "But as a player, you've just got to stay the course, keep getting better each day. Hopefully you get your (playing) time. If it's not one team, maybe it's another."
But it was one of Chicago's mainstays, guard Dwyane Wade, who paced Chicago's offense in the victory.
Wade scored 21 points despite shooting 9 for 23 from the field while Jimmy Butler scored 20 as the Bulls won their second straight.
Ironically, it was Wade, who earlier on Tuesday, declared that his devotion to the Bulls beyond this year may be based on their ability to prove themselves as more than a mediocre team. Wade has consistently said all season that Chicago -- which has hovered around .500 for the better part of the season -- is what it is before making more of a stand Tuesday when it comes to whether he would return to his hometown team.
"I wouldn't lie to you and say no," Wade told reporters Tuesday when he was asked whether continued inconsistency might lead him to opt out of the second year of his deal, according to the Sun-Times. "Of course. I can't play this game forever. I just turned 35, and I have a number in my head on how long I want to play. At the end of the day, you want to be in a (good) situation, whether it's a competitive situation or whatever it may be."