Chicago Bulls

Lauri Markkanen Drops 35, But Bulls Drop Opener to Hornets

It was a season-opening game to forget for the Chicago Bulls, as they coughed up a 10-point fourth quarter lead and lost 126-125 to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

Lauri Markkanen got off to a hot start for the Bulls and scored 35 points while hauling down 17 rebounds, but despite his huge outing the Bulls weren’t able to steal a victory in Charlotte.

Three Bulls players scored in double figures off the bench, including newly-minted co-captain Thaddeus Young, who scored 17 points in his team debut. Rookie guard Coby White scored 17 points and dished out seven assists, and Kris Dunn chipped in with 11 points and four steals.

P.J. Washington scored 27 points to lead the way for the Hornets, and Cody Zeller had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Devonte’ Graham scored 23 points and dished out eight assists off the bench in the winning effort.

The Hornets got some bad news on the injury front, as forward Nicolas Batum left the game with what The Athletic’s Shams Charnia reports is a broken middle finger.

The Hornets jumped out to a 22-14 lead in the first quarter of the game, but the Bulls responded with a 9-0 run to seize their first lead of the game. Markkanen had 12 points in the first quarter of the contest, and hauled down four rebounds for good measure.

Charlotte finished the quarter on a high note, taking the lead back as Washington and Zeller helped guide them to a 37-28 lead after 12 minutes of action.

The two teams played a largely evenly matched second quarter, but the Bulls fought back and got to within a point at the end of three quarters. After Dwyane Bacon made a free throw to make it a 109-105 game with eight minutes to go in regulation, the Bulls reeled off six unanswered points, with Wendell Carter Jr. knocking down a shot and Dunn adding two more to make it 113-105.

Zach LaVine slammed home a dunk with seven minutes to go in the game, putting the Bulls ahead by 10 points.

The Hornets’ ridiculously good three-point shooting night ended up saving their bacon in the end as they slowly chipped away at the Chicago lead. Graham drilled a pair of three pointers to cut the lead to four, and Bacon tied the game with two straight buckets with 2:44 to go.

Zeller then slammed home a dunk with 1:40 to go to put Charlotte in front, and Bacon drilled a three-pointer with 1:11 to go to keep Charlotte ahead for good.

The Bulls will next head to Memphis where they will take on the Grizzlies Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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