LaVine, Portis lead Bulls past short-handed Hawks, 129-122

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Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls drives against Taurean Prince #12 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on March 11, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — A visit to the lowly Atlanta Hawks provided a confidence boost for the Chicago Bulls.

Zach LaVine scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 17 seconds to stop Atlanta’s comeback, and the Bulls beat the injury-depleted Hawks 129-122 on Sunday.

Bobby Portis also had 21 points for Chicago (23-43), which has only three more wins than Atlanta (20-47) near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The Bulls did not play like a draft lottery contender, shooting 49 percent from the field and committing only five turnovers.

“It’s fun basketball, playing that way, playing for each other, making each other better,” Portis said.

The Hawks lost Kent Bazemore to a right knee sprain and Jaylen Morris to a left ankle injury in the second quarter. Dennis Schroder was held out after hurting his left elbow in Friday night’s loss at Indiana. The injury is not thought to be serious.

Bazemore appeared to be slightly favoring the right knee as he left the locker room following the game.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he hoped to have updates on Bazemore and Morris on Monday.

Taurean Prince, who led Atlanta with a career-high 38 points, sank a 3-pointer in traffic with 1:26 remaining to cut Chicago’s lead to 118-115.

Prince added a four-point play with 18.3 seconds remaining, again cutting the Bulls’ lead to three points at 125-122. LaVine’s free throws padded the lead.

Prince was benched by Budenholzer in the second half of Atlanta’s loss at Indiana on Friday night but bounced back with a strong overall game, including seven assists.

“I just want to take what I can from this game and apply it to the next,” Prince said.

Budenholzer said Prince provided “a lot of positives” despite the loss.

Budenholzer said he was impressed “just to see Taurean grow in a game like this and grow in an opportunity where he has the ball in his hands more without Dennis, without Baze.”

Mike Muscala also set a career high with 19 points for Atlanta.

Lauri Markkanen scored 19 points and Antonio Blakeney had 14 for Chicago.

Schroder’s backup, Malcolm Delaney (left ankle sprain), also did not play. Isaiah Taylor had seven points and eight assists in his first career start.

Prince scored 10 of Atlanta’s first 19 points, including two early 3-pointers. The Hawks led 24-8, forcing Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to call two early timeouts.

Chicago outscored Atlanta 33-16 in the second period to lead 53-50 at halftime.

“I give our bench a lot of credit for turning that game around,” Hoiberg said. “I thought they came out and made simple plays.”

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