ATLANTA (AP) — The Chicago Bulls strengthened their hold on home-court advantage in the playoffs, and made it a little tougher for the Atlanta Hawks to extend their season.
For that, the Bulls can thank D.J. Augustin.
Keeping up his inspired play, Augustin scored 23 points as Chicago held off slumping Atlanta for a 105-92 victory Wednesday night, bumping the Hawks out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season.
Chicago stretched its lead to 2 1-2 games over Brooklyn for home court in the opening round of the playoffs. The Bulls may have lost Derrick Rose to major knee injuries two years in a row, but they are 35-20 since signing Augustin in mid-December.
"He's saved our season," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "D.J. can beat you a lot of different ways."
The performance came three days after Augustin scored a career-high 33 points against Boston.
"D-Rose is the face of this team," Augustin said. "I'm just trying to come in, just trying to help us out, do whatever I can do to help us win and go forward in the playoffs."
Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlanta's runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.
"We just want to finish the rest of the season strong," Augustin said.
The Hawks are heading in the opposite direction, losing for the 21st time in 28 games. This one dropped them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed.
"We still control our own destiny," DeMarre Carroll said. "But now things got more interesting."
The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix, two games out after beating Orlando. The Hawks host the Cavaliers on Friday night.