Hawks fall hard vs. Bulls

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Ge­orge Henry

ATLANTA — Lauri Markka­nen wasn’t feel­ing his 3- point shot against Atlanta’s perime­ter de­fense, so the Bulls’ big man de­cided to at­tack in­side.

“That was their game plan, but I can do much more than just shoot from the out­side,” he said. “I missed I don’t know how many 3s, but that wasn’t go­ing for me tonight. I had to fig­ure out some­thing else.”

Robin Lopez scored 20 points, Markka­nen added 19 and Chicago eas­ily beat the Hawks 113-97 on Satur­day night.

The Bulls, com­ing off a 7-point home loss to de­fend­ing NBA cham­pion Golden State three days ago, have won four of five and 15 of 23. They never trailed, tak­ing an 11-point lead mid­way through the first quar­ter on Lopez’s dunk and go­ing up 17 on Markka­nen’s dunk in the clos­ing sec­onds of the first half.

The clos­est Atlanta got in the third was 10 points on John Collins’ dunk. The lead swelled to 25 mid­way through the fourth on Por­tis’ 3.

“I thought that we re­ally played a com­plete game tonight,” Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I thought that we played with the right men­tal­ity.”

Den­nis Schroder scored 18 points and De­wayne Ded­mon had 11 for Atlanta, which showed why it’s spent the sea­son at or near the bot­tom of the NBA stand­ings.

The Hawks be­gan the game ranked sev­enth in 3-point shoot­ing, but they had lit­tle chance of com­pet­ing af­ter miss­ing 34 of their first 38 shots be­yond the arc. Atlanta, com­ing off a dra­matic late vic­tory over New Or­leans, was at­tempt­ing to win three straight for the first time this sea­son.

“The shot isn’t fall­ing, but you have to find an­other way to win the game,” Schroder said. “We didn’t do it tonight. We have to keep mov­ing on to the next game.”

With the Hawks poorly de­fend­ing in­side, Markka­nen took his game to the rim. The 7-foot, 227-pound Finn, a pro­lific 3-point shooter, had five dunks. He went 0 for 4 be­yond the arc, mark­ing the first time in 17 games that he didn’t hit a 3.

Markka­nen hit 100 3s in his first 41 games, faster than any rookie in NBA his­tory, but he wants to make the ad­just­ment in­side when teams fo­cus on tak­ing his perime­ter game away.

“I know I can’t just shoot 3s,” Markka­nen said. “I’ve got to get to the rim. Even­tu­ally that’s go­ing to open a lot more space for 3-point­ers and stuff like that. I just try to mix it up.”

Tip-ins

Bulls: Hoiberg said G Kris Dunn, in the NBA’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col, will not join the team Mon­day in New Or­leans. Dunn is still suf­fer­ing headaches, dizzi­ness and sore­ness from los­ing two front teeth af­ter his face hit the floor. ... Chicago is 7-16 on the road but has won four of its last six away from the United Cen­ter. ... The Bulls have hit at least 10 3s in 10 straight games.

Hawks: The team’s best 3-point vet­eran shoot­ers, F Er­san Ilyasova and G Marco Be­linelli, were a com­bined 0 for 12 be­yond the arc. Atlanta fin­ished 11 for 48. ... The Hawks have dropped three straight in the Bulls se­ries af­ter win­ning seven in a row.

Bullish start

Chicago did as it pleased in the first half, dish­ing out 18 as­sists on 21 field goals to be­gin the third quar­ter with a 55- 38 lead. They scored the game’s first 14 points in the paint on five dunks, and Atlanta had no one ca­pa­ble in­side to de­fend Lopez, who had 16 be­fore in­ter­mis­sion on 8 for 9 shoot­ing.

Por­tis fin­ished with 14 points and Justin Hol­i­day had 13 for the Bulls.

“We knew it was go­ing to be an im­por­tant game for us af­ter a tough loss against Golden State,” Nikola Mirotic said. “I think that game gave us con­fi­dence that we can beat any team in the league.”

John Baze­more / AP

Chicago’s Ryan Ar­cidi­a­cono (left) is fouled by Atlanta’s John Collins dur­ing the first half of Satur­day’s game.

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