Rose returns, Bulls down Hawks

Derrick Rose returned from a five-game absence 79.

Carlos Boozer netted 16 points, while Joakim Noah pulled down 16 rebounds for Chicago, which outrebounded Atlanta 15-8 on the offensive glass and 51-41 overall.

Rose had been battling back spasms since February 6, when he left a lopsided win over New Jersey after playing only 11 minutes. He then played just 22 minutes in a rout of New Orleans two days later before missing the last five contests, where Chicago went 3-2.

"He brings a lot of confidence with him, he puts so much pressure on oppossing teams and players that it opens up things for everybody," Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer said of Rose.

Josh Smith had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Jannero Pargo added 19 points off the bench for the Hawks, who have lost four of their last five games and 7-of-10 overall.

The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 21 in the third, used their bench to charge back late in the third. Chicago's offense also went ice cold as it shot just 31.6 percent in the second half.

Pargo nailed a pair of treys during a 13-3 spurt as the Hawks pulled within 71-61. Pargo netted nine points in the third stanza, but the Bulls still led, 73-64, heading into the fourth.

The Hawks made it a two-possession game on several occassions in the fourth, but never got over the hump.

A pair of Smith free throws followed by a Tracy McGrady trey made it a 78-72 game midway through the final frame. McGrady was fouled on the ensuing possession, but missed both foul shots. At the other end of the floor, Rose knocked down a pull-up jumper to increase the advantage back to 80-72.

A bit later, McGrady got the friendly roll on a jumper to make it 80-75 with 3:25 left, but John Lucas nailed a trey from the right wing at the other end to reestablish an eight-point margin.

The final daggers came after Pargo swished a three-pointer from the left wing to pull the visitors within 85-79. Rose found Luol Deng for a three-pointer and then nailed a short turnaround jumper to make it 90-79 with 2:10 to play.

The Bulls closed the opening quarter on a 29-6 run and took a commanding 35-17 lead into the second. Rose hit a pair of treys and paced Chicago with nine points as the hosts shot a blistering 60.9 percent in the frame.

"We go in spurts where we play well one stretch and then we have letdowns. This game was decided in the first quarter. We gave up 35 points in the first quarter," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said.

Chicago took a 55-37 lead into the locker room. Rose finished the half with 14 points, three assists and three rebounds while Noah pulled down 11 boards. The Bulls outrebounded Atlanta 30-13 and 13-1 on the offensive glass in the opening half.

Game Notes

The Bulls are 7-3 without Rose this season. The All-Star point guard missed five games last month due to a toe injury...The Hawks have lost four straight games to opponents with winning records...Chicago improved to 2-4 in day games...McGrady finished with six points and five rebounds, but was just 1- of-4 from the foul line.