Bulls knock Hawks out of play-in, advance to face Heat

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CHICAGO — After Coby White knocked down a deep 3-pointer to provide the Chicago Bulls a 21-point lead within the fourth quarter Wednesday evening, a sold-out United Middle erupted in a booming cheer.

CO-BY! CO-BY! CO-BY!

White completed with a career-high 42 factors, the second-most by a participant in a play-in recreation (Jayson Tatum had 50 in 2021) and his first profession 40-point recreation, to steer the Bulls to a 131-116 win over the Atlanta Hawks within the Jap Convention play-in event. The sport is not going to formally depend towards White’s profession regular-season or profession playoff stats, however he did not wish to hear it.

“It is on the stat sheet proper right here,” White stated with a smile as he pointed to the paper in his hand at a postgame information convention.

White’s efficiency helped the Bulls roll previous the Hawks in Wednesday’s elimination recreation and right into a rematch with the Miami Warmth on Friday evening for the No. 8 seed within the Jap Convention playoffs and a first-round sequence with the Boston Celtics. Miami misplaced 105-104 to Philadelphia within the different play-in recreation Wednesday.

The Bulls can avenge their loss from the ultimate 2023 play-in recreation, which was additionally in Miami. Chicago had a three-point lead with three minutes remaining earlier than the Warmth ended the sport on a 15-1 run.

“I keep in mind that airplane experience again residence vividly, everyone was simply annoyed,” Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan stated after Wednesday’s recreation. “That feeling sucked. I do know for me that was one factor that was on my thoughts as soon as I noticed we had been going again to Miami, to not have that very same feeling.”

Chicago and Miami can have main harm questions heading into Friday’s matchup.

Warmth star Jimmy Butler will obtain an MRI on Thursday on his proper knee after he suffered an harm throughout their play-in recreation on Wednesday. Sources confirmed to ESPN that the Warmth concern Butler has an MCL harm.

The Bulls might be with out guard Alex Caruso, who suffered a “vital” left ankle sprain, sources instructed ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that has put his availability doubtful. Bulls heart Andre Drummond stepped on Caruso’s proper foot throughout the recreation, and Caruso stated that whereas making an attempt to catch himself he aggravated a left foot difficulty that had hampered him towards the top of the season.

“I do till I am unable to,” Caruso stated about whether or not he expects to play Friday. “We’ll see the way it goes the subsequent couple days, however my mindset can be to play till my physique tells me I am unable to.

The Bulls had been accountable for Wednesday’s recreation from the beginning, leaping out to a 40-22 after closing the primary quarter on a 16-2 run.

“[Coby] led us tonight” stated DeRozan, who completed with 22 factors. “We talked earlier than the sport popping out, being aggressive. Attempting to make a press release early on and never wait. That is what we did.”

The Hawks dropped their remaining seven video games of the season, and Wednesday’s loss marked their first play-in loss in franchise historical past (they entered 3-0).

Dejounte Murray led Atlanta with 30 factors and Trae Younger, who missed 23 video games with a torn ligament late within the season, had 22 factors with 10 assists, however he dedicated six turnovers. Nonetheless, the Hawks mounted a comeback to chop the result in 88-85 within the third quarter, earlier than Chicago responded with a 17-2 run.

White’s efficiency set the tone for the Bulls. He had a career-high 22 factors within the paint, scoring or helping 32 factors immediately off these drives, additionally a career-high, in keeping with Second Spectrum information.

“I root for guys that work exhausting and are nice individuals,” Murray stated of White. “DeMar DeRozan’s a brother to me and he speaks extremely of him. He says he works exhausting, he is a fantastic man, he is dealt with his enterprise, he is an expert on and off the ground. Once I hear these issues, I root for guys across the league simply to have success. I believe he is all the time been good. He by no means actually acquired the chance to showcase what he is showcasing now, and the sky is the restrict.”

Mentioned White: “I am simply grateful to be the place I am at. That first playoff sequence I ever had in my profession did not go how I needed it to go. After which final yr, I performed higher within the play-in, however this yr, I did not come into the sport saying I used to be going to place the group [on my back]. I simply needed to be aggressive and take what the protection gave me and attempt to lead.”

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