The Bulls and Hawks played arguably the craziest game of the season on Friday night, and they delivered another entertaining affair on Sunday afternoon at the United Center. It felt like this game was destined for overtime as well as the Hawks tried to give it away down the stretch, but Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen both missed wide-open 3-pointers with the Bulls down three points in the final minute. The Hawks ultimately took home a 123-118 victory.
The Bulls trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter when Trae Young got ejected in simply ridiculous fashion (even Dunn said so). Young and Dunn had gotten mixed up in the first half, resulting in double technicals, and then the Hawks rookie was tossed for staring down Dunn after burying a long 3-pointer in his face:
Kris Dunn and Trae Young getting chippy pic.twitter.com/v4GxCtLg8o— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 3, 2019
The Bulls immediately made a run and cut the deficit to five points heading into the fourth quarter, but the Hawks did well to weather the storm and pushed their lead back out to 11 points with over eight minutes to play.
That’s when Antonio Blakeney tried to put the Bulls on his back, making his next five shots for 11 points to make it a game again. Kent Bazemore made three shots in a row of his own to help stem the tide (he had been 2-of-25 over the last three games before that), but the Hawks really missed Young’s presence in the final few minutes. Atlanta went over three minutes without scoring before Kevin Huerter made a tough shot in the paint with just under a minute to play, and there were also three straight missed free throws in the final minute to keep the door open for the Bulls. But a Zach LaVine turnover plus those misses from Dunn and Markkanen sealed the deal.
The Bulls put forth a stellar offensive performance (51.1 percent shooting) despite the marathon the other night, the absence of Otto Porter Jr. and down performances from Markkanen and LaVine. Markkanen still managed 19 points and nine rebounds, but he shot just 6-of-21 from the field and was noticeably a bit off all game. The same can be said for LaVine, who coasted to 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting. Can’t really blame them after they left it all on the line for 50-plus minutes on Friday night.
The Bulls got tons of contributions from across the roster to nearly overcome their stars’ poor showings. Antonio Blakeney (17), Ryan Arcidiacono (13) and even Cristiano Felicio (10) all reached double figures, with Blakeney shooting 8-of-13 from the field and Felicio even knocking down consecutive jumpers. The Bulls’ bench shot 22-of-37 overall.
Robin Lopez had another strong game with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Dunn had a decent stat line of 14 points and six assists on 6-of-12 shooting. Dunn made two more 3-pointers (on five attempts) as the Hawks blatantly dared him to shoot, but he missed the most important one and faded in the second half after a strong start. He also was worked over pretty hard by Young, as the flamethrowing rookie had 18 points (6-of-9) shooting and five assists in only 18 minutes of action.
The Hawks hit a whopping 21 3-pointers in the game, outscoring the Bulls by 39 points from beyond the arc. Alex Len somehow led the way with five triples and poured in 28 points as John Collins sat out again. The Hawks’ bench also buried 10 3-pointers, with Jaylen Adams going 4-of-7 and the recently signed B.J. Johnson hitting all three of his attempts.
Getting that win the other night was a lot of fun, but I certainly can’t complain about losing this one. The Bulls’ best guys weren’t all that good, and they were buoyed by some uncharacteristically hot shooting from the bench guys. This outcome pushes the Hawks’ lead over the Bulls in the standings back to four games with 18 games to play, giving Chicago a better chance to stay in that No. 4 spot in the lottery.