CHICAGO – The Bulls needed a big play, and Lauri Markkanen wanted the ball.
Nothing timid about this rookie.
Markkanen made a key 3-pointer with 48.5 seconds left in his fourth NBA game, helping the Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks, 91-86, on Thursday night for their first win of the season.
“I’m not afraid of big moments,” Markkanen said. “Even though my shot wasn’t falling early on, I still believe every shot I shoot, I believe it’s going in.”
The 7-foot forward finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, leading a dominant rebounding effort for the Bulls. Robin Lopez had 16 points and eight rebounds, and reserve David Nwaba finished with 15 points and 11 boards, helping the Bulls to a whopping 62-40 advantage on the glass.
“I think in the past few games we had struggled to close out possessions,” Lopez said. “We had solid defensive possessions, but we let the opposing team get offensive rebounds and tonight I thought we did a great job of getting rebounding, of team rebounding.”
Marco Belinelli made five 3-pointers on his way to 23 points for Atlanta, which went 1-4 on the franchise’s longest road trip to begin a season. Kent Bazemore scored 16 points and Mike Muscala finished with 14 points and 10 boards.
Belinelli made a 3 to give Atlanta an 86-85 lead with 1:48 left, but the Hawks never scored again. Lopez passed to Justin Holiday for a reverse layup, and Jerian Grant found Markkanen for his big 3 in the final minute, making it 90-86.
“It was a tough way to end,” Muscala said.
Grant added a free throw in the final seconds, helping the Bulls close it out. Holiday had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Grant finished with 11 points and seven assists.
Rookie John Collins had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting for the Hawks, who won three of four against the Bulls last season.
Bulls: F Paul Zipser was sidelined by a bruised right knee. Denzel Valentine replaced him in the starting lineup. ... G Kris Dunn (left index finger dislocation) could make his Bulls debut Saturday against Oklahoma City. He got hurt during an Oct. 6 preseason game. “It’s still very swollen, so we’ll get a good practice with him tomorrow and then make that determination on Saturday,” coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Hawks: F Ersan Ilyasova did not play because of a left knee strain.
Hawks: Host Denver on Friday night. The Hawks swept their two-game series against the Nuggets last season.
Bulls: Host Oklahoma City on Saturday night. The Bulls and Thunder split two games last season, with each team winning on the road.