Josh Smith scored 25 points with five rebounds and five assists to lead Atlanta, who received 17 points apiece from Joe Johnson and Vladimir Radmanovic.
With Chicago’s NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose limited to eight points in 28 minutes, reserve John Lucas led the Bulls with 16 points. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls, who never led and trailed by as many as 29 in the third period, never made it close.
The Hawks, playing their third game in as many days, connected on nine of 12 three-point attempts, made 16 steals and blocked eight shots — six of those blocks belonging to Smith.
“I thought we just took it to them,” said Atlanta coach Larry Drew.
Rose, who also had six assists and five turnovers in 28 minutes, said his sore left elbow — bruised on Wednesday in Detroit — wasn’t a hindrance.
“The reason we lost this game was defense, plain and simple,” Rose said.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had cautioned before the contest that Chicago couldn’t expect the Hawks to be tired playing the third game of their back-to-back-to-back run. All teams are facing demanding stretches in the lockout-shortened season.
“This is the NBA,” Thibodeau said. “You have to bring great intensity every night. If you let down even a little bit, this is what happens.”