Cross-Country Travelers

The Chicago Bulls spent the last week and a half on a cross-country road trip, and all they're coming home with is one win. Unfortunately, they haven't had much success at the United Center either.

The Bulls hope Tuesday's meeting with the Atlanta Hawks, whom they have beaten 11 straight times, can help them begin to get their season on track.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Chicago –5.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 181.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago –5.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Chicago (2-10) was considered to be one of the top teams in the East after advancing to the conference semifinals last season. Instead, the Bulls have been one of the worst, averaging an NBA-low 86.5 points and shooting a league-worst 38.5 percent from the floor.

"Without question, we are in a rut which we've got to get through it, there's no doubt about that," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said after Sunday's 93-78 loss to Toronto. "Somebody or some people have to step up and pick us up."

The Bulls shot 38.0 percent from the field on Sunday, and when they cut the lead to two points with 9:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Raptors finished the game on a 23-10 run.

"In critical moments, we're a little flat-footed out there," Skiles said. "Right now at least, we don't have the thrust of energy that we need at that moment."

Chicago has lost four straight since its lone win on the six-game trip, a 92-73 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 17.

This game will be the Bulls' first at the United Center since a 101-71 loss to Toronto on Nov. 10. They are 1-3 in Chicago after finishing with a conference-best 31-10 mark at home last season.

Luol Deng, averaging 15.3 points, returned to Chicago's lineup on Sunday after missing the previous three games with a sore lower back and had 21 points and nine rebounds.

While the Bulls have had minimal success this season, they have had no problems playing against the Hawks lately.

Chicago has not lost to Atlanta since a 116-101 defeat on April 9, 2004, sweeping the last three season series. The Bulls won all four over the Hawks last season, outscoring them by 16.5 points in their two wins at the United Center.

The Hawks (5-7) have opened their three-game trip with consecutive wins after losing their previous 17 away from home. They have not completed a perfect three-game trip since April 9-12, 1997.

Atlanta is coming off an impressive 94-87 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, as it rallied from a 21-point first-half deficit and from 10 points down in the fourth. The Hawks also came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in their 82-79 win at Miami on Wednesday.

"We can't dig ourselves these types of holes and expect to get out of them every game in the second half," said Joe Johnson, who scored a team-high 25 points on Saturday. "I think we still have a lot to work on and we need to start games off right."

Josh Smith scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter against the Timberwolves, and added eight rebounds, five assists, five blocks and three steals.

Atlanta, which went just 12-29 on the road last season, has not won three in a row away from home in November since opening the 1997-98 season with four straight road victories.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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