clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bulls vs. Hawks final score: Chicago earns first win in ugly fashion

Something resembling a basketball game was played at the United Center, and the Bulls got their first win.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls and Hawks got together for a good ol’ fashioned tank-off at the United Center on Thursday night, and it went just how you’d expect a game to go between two awful teams missing key players.

When the dust settled, it was the Bulls who came away with a 91-86 win (?).

As you can tell by the score, the Bulls’ offense was not good for most of the night. They shot only 36.5 percent overall and 7-of-32 from long range. However, they made up for that by pounding the much smaller Hawks on the glass, snatching 17 offensive boards (Robin Lopez had seven himself) en route to a 62-40 rebounding edge. The Bulls also scored 11 more points at the charity stripe (22-11) and dominated in the paint with a 46-20 advantage.

While the Bulls’ offense struggled, some of this was simply a function of missing open 3s. Lauri Markkanen in particular missed a bevy of open looks, especially early, but #TheFinnisher got big when it mattered. With the Bulls up one point in the final minute, a Markkanen-Jerian Grant PnR resulted in an open triple that the rookie calmly buried:

Markkanen finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. Although he shot 5-of-13 from the field and 2-of-8 from 3, he made some nice adjustments after struggling with his outside shot in the first half. He was more aggressive going to the basket in the second half, beating Mike Muscala off the dribble on several occasions. Muscala made some adjustments of his own late in the game and stoned Markkanen on a couple attempted drives, but it was the rookie who had the last laugh with that 3-pointer:

Lopez led the Bulls with 16 points, though most of his scoring damage came early when the game was truly hideous. With the Bulls tossing up bricks from outside, their most effective offense became Lopez in the post, which certainly wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing.

Of course, in addition to his scoring, Lopez did yeoman’s work on the offensive glass with those aforementioned seven offensive rebounds. He also kept numerous other balls alive simply with his savvy positioning and giant frame.

And, finally, Lopez came up with a huge dime to Justin Holiday late in the fourth quarter after a triple from old friend Marco Belinelli put the Hawks up one. The Bulls’ possession seemed stalled with Lopez holding the ball at the top of the key, but Holiday caught Kent Bazemore sleeping with a nice back cut and Lopez zipped in a pass on the money.

The Bulls’ other “star” of the night was David Nwaba, who came off the bench and provided a major jolt. Nwaba’s energy and athleticism jumped off the screen, and he finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds to record the first double-double of his career. He even made his second career 3-pointer! I really liked how he played.

All five Bulls starters scored in double figures, but I can’t say Holiday, Grant or Denzel Valentine played all that well. Valentine took some truly dreadful shots en route to a 3-of-14 shooting night (his airball in the final minute was laugh-out-loud bad), while watching Grant try to run offense can be a real chore.

As for the Hawks, they simply don’t have much without Dennis Schroder. Belinelli had 23 points, rookie John Collins is good and they hit just enough 3-pointers (11) to make this game interesting, but they were difficult to watch. These two teams are definitely going to be fighting it out at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, though the Knicks may still be worse.

And speaking of the Knicks, they’re now the last winless team in the NBA thanks to this Bulls victory.