The Bulls Tuesday continued to be the NBA's team for April with their third consecutive victory, 120-114 over the Charlotte Hornets.
The Bulls raised their record to 27-51. Charlotte fell to 34-45.
The Bulls were led by Lauri Markkanen with 24 points, but it was newcomer Sean Kilpatrick with 21 points, 19 in the fourth quarter, that carried the Bulls down the stretch in a frenzied close with the teams combining to score in nine consecutive possessions in one stretch and 11 of 12 overall as the Bulls continued to hold off a daring Hornets charge.
Justin Holiday added 19 points with four threes. Markkanen had five three pointers for the second consecutive game. Bobby Portis had 16 points, Jerian Grant 13 and David Nwaba 10 points with a team high nine rebounds. The Bulls were 15 of 34 on threes and had 51 points off the bench. Charlotte's Malik Monk had 16 fourth quarter points with five three in the quarter in the high scoring, entertaining close.
Denzel Valentine was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, so he joined those out for the rest of the season. Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Antonio Blakeney are out for the rest of the season and Paul Zipser still is out. Robin Lopez didn't play with the team judging other interior players. Holiday started with Valentine out along with Markkanen, Cristiano Felicio, David Nwaba and Cameron Payne. Markkanen again started fast with a three in the first minute on the way to 10 first quarter points. But the Bulls could not wrestle the lead from Charlotte, who were ahead 22-19 after one quarter as Charlotte had 14 inside points to seven for the Bulls. Charlotte added to their margin early in the second quarter, taking a 31-25 lead again getting inside. The Bulls then ran off nine straight points with pressure defense causing turnovers for fast break scores. Ryan Arcidiacono passing to Kilpatrick with a Portis finish was a highlight as the Bulls nudged ahead 34-31. The Hornets reclaimed the lead with six straight points and then held the Bulls off until a Nwaba score off another turnover and threes from Holiday and Portis to give the Bulls a 53-47 halftime lead. Markkanen had 18 points in the first half and Dwight Howard 10.
Felicio opened the Bulls second half scoring with a rare baseline jumper and again the Bulls pushed the ball into offense with Holiday, Payne and Nwaba scoring on drives. Markkanen was quicker with his catch and shoot and his pair of threes gave the Bulls a 69-60 lead midway through the third quarter. Markkanen would go on to have his 24 points through three quarters. With Payne inspiring a forward looking offense, the Bulls went on to lead 86-79 heading into the fourth quarter. Noah Vonleh went out in the third with a strained calf. And then Charlotte's Monk wasn't particularly ascetic with three consecutive three pointers to bring Charlotte within 91-90 with 9:31 left in the game. Game on! Kilpatrick pushed the Bulls ahead with seven straight points ending in a three-point play on a tricky drive and pulp for a three-point play. Felicio then rebounded a miss for a Holiday three and 103-98 Bulls lead with 6:42 left. It then became a shootout down the stretch with Kilpatrick leading the Bulls, Howard dunking and Monk with a fabulous baseline driving double clutch slam dunk. But the Hornets could not wrest the lead from the Bulls.