CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls overcame a poor performance in the first three quarters with a strong finish.
Zach LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the fourth and the Bulls rallied from 15 points down in the final period for a 118-116 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Chicago, which trailed by as many as 19 points, held the Cavaliers to 14 points in the fourth and forced 10 turnovers.
Lauri Markkanen scored 17 points for the Bulls, who have won two of three.
LaVine has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games.
“We just put together a last little run, and we did it at the right time,” LaVine said. “Sometimes, all it takes is seven or eight good minutes of a good run and you can win the game.
“It was ugly up to that point, but we turned it around, and that’s all that matters.”
Kevin Love had 29 points and Collin Sexton added 26 as Cleveland dropped its fourth straight.
“It stings to lose this game,” Cavaliers coach John Beilein said. “Forget about the lead that we had … we’re just better than 26 turnovers. We sometimes get a little too anxious or try to do too much and we have to work harder as a coaching staff at fundamentals.”
With the Bulls leading 114-111, the Cavaliers appeared to have a chance to tie the game as Love drove the baseline for a basket and Markkanen was called for a touch foul by referee Ashley Moyer-Gleich with 20.1 seconds left.
However, Bulls coach Jim Boylen challenged the call and the foul was rescinded after review — giving the Chicago the ball with a 114-113 lead.
“I knew I didn’t push him,” Markkanen said. “I was confident they were going to overturn the call. I wasn’t really surprised.”
LaVine then stretched it to 117-113 with a three-point play with 16.5 seconds left. Cedi Osman hit a 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds remaining to make it a one-point game, The Cavaliers got the ball back following a turnover, but Love missed inside and Chicago hung on.
“I did have a good look,” Love said. “I probably should’ve not tried to bank it.”
After leading 33-31 at the end of the first quarter, Cleveland opened up a big lead by outscoring Chicago 40-25 in the second. The Cavaliers were 14 for 17 (82.4%) from the field, including 7 of 9 on 3-pointers. Those numbers included a miss on a heave from just inside the half-court line before the halftime buzzer.
Love set the pace for Cleveland’s 73-56 lead at the intermission with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. The 12th-year forward entered averaging 17.1 points.
The Cavaliers took a 102-87 lead into the fourth and appeared in control. But Chicago suddenly came to life, opening the quarter with a 16-2 run and pulling within 104-103 with just over six minutes left.
Cavaliers: G Dante Exum (right ankle) was doubtful when the team arrived at the United Center, but decided to play after testing it. He finished with two points in 15 minutes.
Bulls: Markkanen attempted only two shots in the second half of Friday’s loss at Philadelphia, which was a hot topic pregame. “He didn’t shoot the ball enough last night,” Boylen said. “It’s not that he wasn’t involved. I have to make sure he gets more than two shots.”
For most of the fourth, the Bulls used a lineup with Markkanen at center and Chandler Hutchison at power forward. “It was an aggressive lineup,” LaVine said. “We were out there making plays and we needed to. With Hutch out there, he can get a rebound and push it, too, so it makes us a lot faster.”
Both teams played on the road Friday night and were scheduled to fly to Chicago immediately after the game, but neither were able to take off. The winter storm that moved across the East and Midwest stranded the Bulls in Philadelphia and the Cavaliers in Memphis. Each team landed in Chicago late Saturday morning.
“If we couldn’t land in Chicago, then they couldn’t land here, either,” Beilein said. “Both of us are coming off tough losses and we both have to deal with it.”
Cavaliers: Host New York on Monday night.
Bulls: At Milwaukee on Monday.
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