When Atlanta’s Saddiq Bey was going through some offensive struggles three weeks ago, coach Quin Snyder told him to keep shooting.
Bey did, and the Hawks are reaping the benefits of his rediscovered offensive game.
Bey and the Hawks will play their final home game before the All-Star break on Monday night when they host the Chicago Bulls. The two teams are fighting for playoff positions: the Bulls currently are No. 9 in the Eastern Conference and lead the No. 10 Hawks by one game.
This will be the second of three meetings between the teams this season. The Bulls won the first contest 118-113 in Chicago on Dec. 26. The clubs, which split four games last season, will complete this season’s series April 1 in Chicago.
Bey, acquired at the trade deadline a year ago, has been a big part of Atlanta’s resurgence. In four games since returning from missing a game-and-a-half with an ankle sprain, the veteran is averaging 21.3 points a game and is shooting 48.1 percent on 3-pointers. Long forgotten his is 0-for-12 shooting from the field against Cleveland on Jan. 20.
Bey scored 24 points to raise his average to 13.6 on Saturday when Atlanta defeated the Houston Rockets 122-113 for its sixth win in the last eight games. Dejounte Murray scored 34 to lead the Hawks.
Atlanta’s Trae Young needs three 3-point baskets to tie Mookie Blaylock for No. 1 on the franchise’s all-time list. Young had two triples on Saturday, leaving him within range of Blaylock’s club record of 1,050.
The Bulls are coming off a 114-108 overtime loss to Orlando on Saturday. They are on the third leg of a four-game trip that will take them to the All-Star Game, and they acknowledge fatigue is an issue.
DeMar DeRozan, one of three Bulls who played more than 43 minutes against Orlando, said, “Pretty sure everybody is tired. It’s that point in the season where everybody is waiting for a break. We have to leave it all out there.”
Andre Drummond got in foul trouble and played only 17 minutes against the Magic. He could be a problem on the glass for the Hawks. Drummond averages 8.5 rebounds and grabbed a season-high 25 against the Hawks on Dec. 26 in their first meeting. He has had double-digit rebounds in two of his last three games.
The Hawks played Saturday without De’Andre Hunter as the team continues to carefully manage his minutes following a right knee injury that kept him out for 20 games. They also were minus Clint Capela because of an adductor strain that likely will keep him idle through the All-Star break.
Hunter is expected to play against the Bulls.