With help from Portis flagrant foul, Bulls beat Wizards
Playing short-handed, old friends in town ... there were plenty of reasons why this didn't figure to be the Bulls' night.
But without Zach LaVine and Otto Porter Jr., the Bulls managed to beat the Washington Wizards 126-120 in overtime on Wednesday at the United Center.
With plenty of chances to shoot, Lauri Markkanen piled up 32 points and 13 rebounds. Kris Dunn added 26 points and 13 assists. Shaq Harrison led a surprising charge by the supporting cast, scoring 18 points.
A flagrant foul by former Bulls forward Bobby Portis played an important role in the outcome.
The Bulls had a 1-point lead with just under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter when Markkanen popped loose on a screen-and-roll, took a pass from Dunn and Portis reached across the lane and smacked Markkanen in the face to prevent a layup.
Markkanen immediately grabbed his face, then turned and gave Portis a look. Officials called a common foul, then switched to a flagrant after watching the video.
"I was just going for the ball," Portis said after the game. "I can't control what happens after I go for the ball. It wasn't a dirty play at all. It just happened to happen. I knew I would get a flagrant. I feel like if somebody else would have did it, then they wouldn't go over there and patted me on the back. If I was in that position, then I wouldn't get a flagrant call if I was Lauri, but it is what it is."
Markkanen made both free throws, but the Bulls missed a shot when they regained possession and eventually Bradley Beal tied it on a baseline jumper with 2.4 seconds left. The Bulls couldn't get a final shot off in time.
Inside the locker room, Markkanen offered no hard feelings toward Portis. The play was somewhat reminiscent of the Bulls' playoff game in Boston in 2009 when Rajon Rondo smacked Brad Miller in the face to prevent a late layup. No flagrant was called that time.
"Yeah, I've got nothing against him," Markkanen said. "Actually, I haven't seen the play yet, but I don't believe it was intentional. I don't think he's like that. The thing about Bobby is he just plays so hard, so stuff happens. I don't believe that was anything intentional."
Asked where he got the worst of it, nose or mouth, Markkanen wasn't specific.
"I don't know. Kind of everything," he said.
The Bulls led by 6 in overtime after Dunn knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. With the lead down to 2, Markkanen drained a 3-pointer with 32.3 seconds left to put the game away.
Portis finished with 15 points. The other ex-Bull, Jabari Parker, led Washington with 28 points, while Bradley Beal scored 27.
Porter missed his second straight game with a right shoulder strain, then LaVine was a late scratch due to a right thigh contusion. Coach Jim Boylen said LaVine would play when he addressed reporters about two hours before tipoff.
So the Bulls started Harrison and Antonio Blakeney, and got off to a fast start, leading 35-28 after one quarter. Porter said before the game he didn't think the shoulder problem will keep him out long.
This was the second game back at the United Center for Portis and Parker. Their first game in Chicago took place just three days after the Feb. 6 trade with Washington.
"I was more hyped the first time," Portis said before the game. "Now I'm just ready to play basketball. I was so giddy and anxious to play the first time, but now just let the game come to me.
Portis said he spent time at his home in Chicago and drove to the arena himself instead of riding the team bus.
"It feels weird," he said. "There's love between me and everybody on that side. I still watch their games too, I still check the stats for their games, still chime in with them."