Bulls-Hawks Preview

Unexpected contributors have enabled the Chicago Bulls to reverse their recent misfortunes.

The Atlanta Hawks, on the other hand, remain searching for answers to their prolonged struggles.

Though virtually tied in the Eastern Conference standings, the teams have been heading in opposite directions leading into Friday night's matchup in Atlanta.

The Bulls' season appeared to be sinking a week ago following a season-high fifth consecutive loss, but they've won three straight since despite continued absences from All-Star Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. A resurgence from Derrick Rose has helped trigger the turnaround, as has increased production from a number of players called upon for greater roles.

Rose recorded a third straight game of at least 24 points in Sunday's 126-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers but sat out Wednesday against Washington to rest a tender right hamstring. The offense still didn't skip a beat, as seven players finished in double figures in a 109-104 win.

Tony Snell scored 16 points starting in Rose's place and E'Twaun Moore had 17 three days after recording 24 on 10-of-14 shooting against the Lakers. Doug McDermott, averaging 20.0 points on a 67.6 field goal rate during the streak, added 14 off the bench.

''It's the next man up mentality,'' coach Fred Hoiberg said. ''It's not an ideal situation, but it's what guys like Justin Holiday, Tony Snell, E'Twaun Moore, it's why you play this game. It's for opportunities like this when your main players aren't out there.''

The Bulls (30-26) have averaged 117.0 points during the surge and shot 50 percent or better in all three wins. They were a combined 40.9 percent while failing to top 95 points in their previous three losses.

Chicago will see if it can maintain that success on the road, where it's lost four straight, and against a Hawks team it's lost handily to in two prior 2015-16 meetings.

Atlanta (31-27) has been unable to build on a 113-90 rout at the United Center on Feb. 10 that seemed to signal a return to form, however. The Hawks have emerged from the All-Star break with three consecutive home losses while continuing be inconsistent on both ends.

There were some encouraging signs out of Monday's 102-92 defeat to league-leading Golden State. The Hawks outscored the Warriors 36-18 in the third quarter and used a 33-6 run to take an 80-76 lead early in the fourth before the defending NBA champions rallied for their 50th win.

"Obviously we're in a little bit of a tough spot, but there's some positives to build on from (Monday)," coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Al Horford and Dennis Schroder have continued to play well for Atlanta, which is trying to avoid its first five-game home skid since December 2006. Horford had 23 points and 16 rebounds against Golden State and is averaging 19.4 points over his last five. Schroder followed a career-high 25-point, near triple-double in Saturday's double-overtime loss to Milwaukee with 18 on 8-of-12 shooting on Monday.

Both have given the Bulls problems this season. Horford's season-high 33 points carried the Hawks to a 120-105 home win on Jan. 9 and Schroder had 18 in this month's first meeting.

Atlanta has won four of the series' past five matchups.

Kirk Hinrich, acquired from the Bulls in a three-team trade at last week's deadline, has yet to appear in any of Atlanta's three games following the swap.

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