The Chicago Bulls are playing their best basketball of the season at a time many might have thought the focus would be shifting to the NBA draft lottery.
The wins are making Lauri Markkanen hungry for more.
Markkanen made three free throws to give visiting Chicago the lead for good, Zach LaVine scored 47 points and the Bulls overcame Atlanta rookie Trae Young’s 49 points to beat the Hawks 168-161 in four overtimes Friday night.
Each team set franchise records for points in a game.
Markkanen finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds. He snapped a 159-all tie by making the three free throws after he was fouled by Alex Len.
“It was great fun,” Markkanen said. “It should make us feel more hungry. We can do it.”
The Bulls (18-45) have won five of six but rank 13th among 15 Eastern Conference teams — one spot behind Atlanta (21-42).
LaVine said the game was exhausting. “I’ve never been part of a game that long,” LaVine said. “… I airballed one because I was so damn tired.”
Clippers 116, Kings 109: Landry Shamet scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, Lou Williams made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left and Los Angeles held off host Sacramento. The Clippers completed a season sweep of the Kings in a game that was critical for both teams’ postseason hopes.
Raptors 119, Trail Blazers 117 : Kawhi Leonard scored the go-ahead basket with three seconds remaining and host Toronto held on to beat Portland. Leonard scored 38 points and Kyle Lowry had 19 points and 10 assists as the Raptors won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Bucks 131, Lakers 120: Eric Bledsoe scored 31 points, Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points, and Milwaukee beat Los Angeles for its eighth consecutive victory and 10th in a row on the road.
Hornets 123, Nets 112: Kemba Walker scored 25 points, Jeremy Lamb added 22 and visiting Charlotte snapped a three-game skid by beating Brooklyn to boost its playoff hopes. The Hornets inched back ahead of Orlando for eighth place in the East and evened the season series with the sixth-place Nets to avoid giving Brooklyn that head-to-head tiebreaker if the teams were to finish with the same record.
Celtics 107, Wizards 96: Kyrie Irving had 13 points and 12 assists, Al Horford scored 18 points and Boston beat visiting Washington to snap a four-game losing streak. The Celtics won for the first time since the All-Star break to avoid their first five-game skid in more than four years.
Pelicans 130, Suns 116: Julius Randle scored 16 of his 22 points in the third quarter, leading New Orleans over host Phoenix. Jrue Holiday scored 21 points, E’Twaun Moore added 20 and Anthony Davis, on a team-imposed playing-time restriction, had 17 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
Silver speaks: At a sports analytics conference in Boston, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he would consider shortening the regular season to 70 games if the league could develop something meaningful to do to replace the games — and revenue — they would be giving up. Also, Silver raised the idea of replacing the All-Star Game with a midseason or preseason tournament in which teams would compete for a separate championship, as is done in European soccer. “The All-Star Game didn’t work,” he said, calling it “an afterthought” of the weekend despite changes like tinkering with the rosters through a player draft that was made public for the first time. “I get it. We put an earring on a pig.”
Gasol a free agent: The Spurs announced a buyout agreement with center Pau Gasol, allowing him to become playoff-eligible with another team. ESPN reported that Gasol’s next team will be the Bucks. Gasol has appeared in only two of the Spurs’ past seven games and his playing time has dropped this season to just over 12 minutes per game. Gasol signed with the Spurs in July 2016 and appeared in 168 games with San Antonio, averaging 10 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 22.4 minutes.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Bulls-overcome-Trae-Young-s-49-points-to-beat-13657503.php.