- By Sean Highkin Special to the AJC
CHICAGO — In a matchup of two teams more concerned at the moment with lottery balls than the wins column, the Hawks (1-4) came out on the losing end, falling to the Bulls 91-86 Thursday night.
For a pair of teams that have emphasized ball movement over individual scoring, it wasn’t a pretty offensive affair. Both teams finished the night shooting under 40 percent from the field — Atlanta shot 39.3 percent while Chicago shot 36.5 percent.
The Hawks led after each of the first two quarters on the strength of their outside shooting. They shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, while Chicago shot a mere 13.3 percent.
The Bulls’ offense picked up in the second half as they outscored the Hawks 28-20 in the third quarter to take a 65-59 lead into the final period. Chicago led by as much as nine in the second half, but Atlanta took the lead back in the fourth quarter on key three-pointers from Kent Bazemore and Mike Muscala.
The teams traded baskets over the final six minutes before Chicago took the lead for good on a basket by Jerian Grant. Bulls rookie forward Lauri Markkanen sealed the win with a three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining on his way to 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Playing against his former team, Hawks guard Marco Belinelli led all scorers with 23 points off the bench while shooting 5-of-7 from three-point range. Kent Bazemore finished with 16 points and Mike Muscala had 14. Rookie big man John Collins scored 13 points, his third consecutive game scoring in double figures.
Center Robin Lopez scored 16 points to lead the Bulls, while guard David Nwaba added 15 off the bench. All five Bulls starters scored in double figures. The win was the Bulls’ first on the season.
The Hawks were without forward Ersan Ilyasova, who sat out his second straight game with a knee strain, which head coach Mike Budenholzer called a precautionary measure. Muscala started in his place. Budenholzer indicated Ilyasova may be available for the Hawks’ home opener Friday against the Denver Nuggets.