CHICAGO – Lauri Markkanen scored 24 points and Sean Kilpatrick added 21 off the bench to lead the Bulls to a 120-114 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.
Justin Holiday had 19 points and Bobby Portis added 16 for the Bulls, who have won three straight.
Dwight Howard scored 23 points and Malik Monk had 21 for Charlotte, which has dropped four straight.
Markkanen didn’t play in the fourth quarter and totaled only 24 minutes for the game. The 7-foot rookie was 8 of 14 from the field, including
5 of 6 on 3-pointers.
The Bulls had an 86-79 lead entering the fourth quarter before coach Fred Hoiberg decided to sit most of his regulars, possibly because it was really in the team’s best interest to lose and hope to improve its draft position.
Kilpatrick, however, had other plans and took over the reins of the offense, scoring 19 points in final 12 minutes to hold off Monk (16 in the fourth) and Charlotte.
Kilpatrick iced the game with a 3-pointer with 56.5 seconds to go for a 118-114 lead.
Hornets notes: Forward Nicolas Batum (left Achilles tendon soreness) was a surprise addition to the starting lineup. “Earlier in the morning, he was going to not play,” coach Steve Clifford said. “Then it felt a lot better at shootaround.” Batum finished with 11 points in 28 minutes. G/F Dwayne Bacon (sprained right ankle) and G/F Treveon Graham (concussion protocol) each missed a second straight game.
Bulls notes: Guard Denzel Valentine was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove loose debris Wednesday morning and will miss the final week of the season. “I’ll be able to walk out of the hospital,” he said. “I had the same thing done in college when I was a senior and I was back playing in two weeks.” Forward Noah Vonleh suffered a strained left calf in the first half and did not return.