ATLANTA — In the early going Tuesday night, the Chicago Bulls looked lost.
Perhaps their minds were still in Miami, where the Heat drubbed them Sunday.
They fell behind by 14 points to an injury-depleted Atlanta Hawks team whose starting big men were the ancient Elton Brand and the 6-foot-8 DeMarre Carroll. Kyle Korver drained two 3-pointers in the game's first 50 seconds.
"We were slow," coach Tom Thibodeau said.
But then the Bulls turned it on, took a second-quarter lead and made several key plays down the stretch in an entertaining 107-103 road victory.
"We'll take this one," guard Kirk Hinrich said. "We feel like we kind of stole it."
Both Joakim Noah (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (17 and 11) had double-doubles, and Mike Dunleavy led the way in two key categories: points (22) and minutes played (47:51).
Dunleavy joked about thanking Thibodeau for "resting" him for the final nine seconds of the first half: "That made a big difference."
Dunleavy said there was "no question" the Bulls would have lost this type of game early in the season.
"There are a lot of games we would have lost that we won in the last 20-30 games," he said. "We have figured out a way to hang in there and get wins."
The crumbling Hawks lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games. They played Tuesday without injured big men Al Horford, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon. A knee bruise sidelined do-everything forward Paul Millsap.
The Hawks might feel as if they played the final few minutes outmanned - if you count the refs.
Carroll appeared to swat a 3-point shot from a double-clutching Hinrich, but the veteran guard managed to draw a foul.
"I knew if I let it go with a normal release, he'd block it," Hinrich said. "It was the only option I had."
Officials reviewed it, and the crowd figured the call somehow would be changed. Instead the ruling came down - three foul shots. Hinrich drained all of them for a 104-103 lead with 40 seconds to play.
"Those free throws were huge," Thibodeau said. "At the end of the game, you do whatever is necessary to find a way to win."
The Hawks were in position to score when coach Mike Budenholzer charged onto the court to call for time, colliding into referee Bennie Adams. The timeout negated a Mike Scott 3-pointer.
With 23 seconds to play, Hawks guard Jeff Teague did the unthinkable, stepping on the end line.
Needing to foul, Teague shoved Hinrich, who needed to be restrained by Noah from going after the Hawks guard.
That's what happened, right?
"That's what you were waiting to ask me this whole time," Hinrich said playfully to a reporter.
From the neighboring locker stall, Noah laughed and said: "Yes, yes."
Hinrich downplayed the interaction with Teague, saying: "Taking a shot like that was just a natural reaction."