Lauri wasn’t on the mark much Thursday in the United Center. But Markkanen, the Bulls talented rookie, was when it counted as his three with 48.5 seconds remaining carried the Bulls to their first victory of the season, 91-86 over the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bulls are 1-3; Atlanta fell to 1-4.
The Bulls on a poor shooting night fought off several Hawks comebacks in the fourth quarter with Markkanen’s clutch jumper from the left wing the big shot and relief for the young Bulls.
Robin Lopez led six Bulls in double figures with 16 points. David Nwaba had 15 points. Markkanen had 14 points and Justin Holiday 13 points. Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine had 11 points each.
The Bulls were without Paul Zipser with a sore knee. Kris Dunn remained out and could return Saturday or next week. Ersan Ilyasova and Denis Schroder were out for Atlanta. It was an unsteady start for both teams with Atlanta taking a 20-18 lead after one quarter. Lopez led the Bulls with 10 points on five of 10 shots in the quarter. Markkanen was one of five and the rest of the team divided two shots. It continued as a desultory first half with both teams’ shooting going awry. Neither exceeded 35 percent in the first half as Lopez led the Bulls with 14 points. The Bulls were two of 15 on threes in the first half with just six assists on 14 baskets.
The Bulls, especially Markkanen after a one of eight shooting first half, recovered some in the third quarter with Markkanen finishing twice on drives, once with a powerful dunk and three of four shooting in the quarter and seven points. The Bulls outscored the Hawks 28-20 to take a 65-59 lead entering the fourth quarter. Holiday also added seven points with a three, though the Bulls were just two of seven on threes in the quarter and four for 22 through three quarters. Nwaba chipped in with a dozen through three quarters off the bench. The Hawks overtook the Bulls with a quick 11-2 run midway through the fourth quarter when the Hawks made threes in three of four consecutive possessions for a 78-77 Atlanta lead with 5:53 left. It was back and forth thereafter with the Bulls easing ahead 83-78 with 3:29 left. But Atlanta came back to take an 86-85 lead on a pair of Marco Belinelli threes before the Bulls went back ahead 87-86 on a nice setup for Holiday from Lopez.