ATLANTA (AP) — 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 Chicago the lead for good, Zach LaVine scored a career-high 47 points and the Bulls overcame Trae Young‘s career-high 49 points to beat the Atlanta 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 still rank only 13th of 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.”
LaVine was impressed with Young, the rookie who had his third straight game of setting or matching his career scoring high after back-to-back games with 36 points.
“Trae Young is an incredible talent,” LaVine said. “You can already see. He has the `it’ factor.”
Young’s tiebreaking, step-back 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation forced the first overtime. The rookie’s last-second layup tied it at 140 to force the second overtime.
Young had 16 assists, eight rebounds and nine turnovers. Otherwise, his line was very similar to LaVine’s.
Young made 17 of 33 shots including six 3-points. LaVine made 17 of 35 shots with six 3s. Each played almost 56 minutes.
“That was a fun game to play, probably one of the most fun games I’ve played in my career,” Young said. ” … I’m proud of the way we fought. We came up short but I love the way we fought.”
Young and DeAndre Bembry had turnovers in the final 30 seconds of the third overtime, preventing the Hawks from an opportunity to snap a 155-all tie.
Ryan Arcidiacono‘s 3-pointer forced the third overtime.