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Chicago Bulls

LaVine, Portis lead Bulls past short-handed Hawks

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen of Finland, dunks against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen of Finland, dunks against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

ATLANTA – A visit to the lowly Atlanta Hawks provided a confidence boost for the Bulls.

Zach LaVine scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 17 seconds to stop Atlanta’s comeback, and the Bulls beat the injury-depleted Hawks, 129-122, on Sunday.

Bobby Portis also had 21 points for the Bulls (23-43), who have only
three more wins than Atlanta (20-47) near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The Bulls did not play like a draft lottery contender, shooting 49 percent from the field and committing only five turnovers.

“It’s fun basketball, playing that way, playing for each other, making each other better,” Portis said.

The Hawks lost Kent Bazemore to a right knee sprain and Jaylen Morris to a left ankle injury in the second quarter. Dennis Schroder was held out after hurting his left elbow in Friday night’s loss at Indiana. The injury is not thought to be serious.

Bazemore appeared to be slightly favoring his right knee as he left the locker room following the game.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he hoped to have updates on Bazemore and Morris on Monday.

Taurean Prince, who led Atlanta with a career-high 38 points, sank a 3-pointer in traffic with 1:26 remaining to cut the Bulls’ lead to 118-115.

Prince added a four-point play with 18.3 seconds remaining, again cutting the Bulls’ lead to three points at 125-122. LaVine’s free throws padded the lead.

Lauri Markkanen scored 19 points and Antonio Blakeney had 14 for the Bulls.

Schroder’s backup, Malcolm Delaney (left ankle sprain), also did not play. Isaiah Taylor had seven points and eight assists in his first career start.

Prince scored 10 of Atlanta’s first 19 points, including two early 3-pointers. The Hawks led, 24-8, forcing Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to call two early timeouts.

The Bulls outscored Atlanta, 33-16, in the second period to lead, 53-50, at halftime.

“I give our bench a lot of credit for turning that game around,” Hoiberg said. “I thought they came out and made simple plays.”


Bulls: Center Robin Lopez started but played only in the first quarter, and guard Justin Holiday was held out as Hoiberg said the team was “taking it game by game” on lineups. Those two players were the focus of a reminder from the league to the team after the All-Star break about player rest and tanking. ... The Bulls made 8 of 13 3s in the third quarter and 17 of 37 for the game.

Hawks: Morris was signed to a second 10-day contract after averaging 4.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in five games. He had four points in six minutes before his injury. ... Josh Magette, on a two-way contract, played a career-high 22 minutes and had seven points with eight assists.


The Bulls had 31 assists, including seven by Denzel Valentine and five by Kris Dunn and Portis, to go with the five turnovers.


The Hawks set a season high with 19 3-pointers on 40 attempts. Prince made 7 of 13 3s.

“He came out hot and just kept feeling it,” said teammate John Collins, who had 15 points.

Muscala made five of six 3s.


Bulls: Host Clippers on Tuesday.

Hawks: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

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