ATLANTA After Kyle Korvers Hawks defeated the Bulls at Philips Arena, the season series between the former members of the Bench Mob and the current Bulls now stands at two games apiece.
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The elite perimeter threats 13 points, including 3-of-6 shooting from long distance, gave the Bulls their second loss to player who left this offseason, as Omer Asiks Rockets beat them in Houston with the rematch looming at the United Center on Christmas Day and Ronnie Brewers Knicks fell to them twice after Fridays game in New York.
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Theres always mixed emotions the first time you play an old team. You want to go out there and play well, for sure. Ive got a lot of great memories of those guys, Korver said afterwards. We fought hard there for two years, man, and you develop relationships with those guys through all that. I think as a team, we really needed tonight. We needed to play well, we needed a win. It also just happened to be against my old team.
His new team isnt too shabby either, as the Hawks have quietly been one of the leagues surprises early in the campaign after dealing All-Star Joe Johnson to Brooklyn in the offseason.
The seasons still young and we still have a lot of growth in us. We have a lot of areas where we can grow a lot, actually. But I think, for the most part, we play really unselfishly and we play really hard, and I think when you combine those two things, especially here in the NBA, good things happen and thats what happened so far for us, Korver explained. Weve had great games, weve had a couple stinkers weve had a couple of them in a row before this game so we have a lot of room for growth. We have a lot of unique pieces, so were trying to put them all together.
Former teammate Joakim Noah added: Theyre very competitive, they have a lot of different weapons, theyre playing well as a team. But at the end of the day, talk doesnt help you win basketball games. Youve got to go out there and compete. They competed harder than us tonight.
Korver admitted that he has a special place in his heart for Chicago, though he acknowledges there were some inconveniences in the Windy City that he could do without.
I miss the people, man. I miss the fans. Such a great sports town. Ive got a lot of really good friends there, on the team, off the team. I was involved in a really great community there. I definitely miss the people, he said. I definitely dont miss driving in and out from the Berto to downtown. I use up like one tank of gas a month here and thats a beautiful thing for a lot of reasons. But other than that, I definitely miss a lot about Chicago.
While many observers around the NBA believed the Bulls would be in for a down year without Derrick Rose to start the season, dont count Korver among that group.
I was surprised that everyone doubted them so much at the beginning of the season. I didnt understand it all the way. Theres such a strong system put in place there and they keep in plugging in guys, and the core is still the same, Korver explained. Joakims gotten better this year. Luol is Luol, hes just their rock. You take a couple good players and you have a great coach, and youre going to have a good team. Theyre going to hold down the fort until Derrick comes back, whenever that is and at the end of the season, youve got to watch out for them, for sure.
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Korver wasnt the only Hawks player to have a reunion, as Atlantas starting point guard Jeff Teague faced off with his younger brother, Bulls rookie Marquis Teague, for the first time.
It was fun, man. Im just happy for him, said Jeff, who had 11 points and eight assists, compared to Marquis eight points and three assists, albeit mainly in garbage time. Being 19, 20 however old he is; hes one of them but to be out there, being able to fulfill your dream, it was good to see him out there.