All eyes were on Markkanen last night as Zach LaVine handed the ball off to him with under ten seconds to go in the game. Markkanen spun off Paul George, driving down the ride side of the lane before hitting a game winning hook shot. The shot gave the Bulls their first win since November 21st.
Along with a game winner, the athletic 7-footer put up 24 points, shooting 8 for 12 from the field. 12 of these points came from four threes on just eight attempts. Markkanen also had 7 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists and a block in just 28 minutes. Markkanen hurt his elbow due to incidental contact on a screen in the second half of the game, but continued to play. He told 670 The Score‘s Cody Westerlund that his elbow felt “tender”, but did not express any worry, according to Westerlund.
Zach LaVine lead all scorers in Friday night’s game in Chicago with 25. He shot 10 of 18 from the floor while adding 7 assists to his stat sheet in 36 minutes. LaVine did struggle taking care of the ball, turning it over nine times. His turnover total was the second most in the game, thanks to Thunder guard and former MVP Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook’s triple-double wasn’t enough for the 3rd best team in the NBA. While Westbrook did have 24 points, he shot just 9 for 21 from the field and 2 for 6 from deep. The All-Star point guard had 13 assists while hauling in a game-leading 17 rebounds in 35 minutes played. The high-flying MVP was shocked, however, when the 19-year-old Bulls rookie, Wendell Carter Jr. stuffed one of his signature tomahawk dunk attempts late in the fourth quarter.
Thunder center Steven Adams notched his 11th double-double of the season last night in the loss to the Bulls. The New Zealander had 21 points along with 10 boards in 31 minutes played.
All-Star small forward, Paul George also filled the stat sheet with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals in 36 minutes. He shot poorly, however, going 6 of 16 from the floor.
While a lot of credit should go to Markkanen for this win, it was an all around good performance for the Bulls. The team shot 52.4% from the field and 48% from deep. What’s most intriguing about the win is that the opposition wasn’t a bad team. The last two teams the Bulls beat were the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both of these teams are last in their respective conferences. Boylen and the Bulls beat a Thunder team that is currently tied for 3rd in the NBA in win percentage. The Bulls have undoubtedly been playing bad basketball, but a head coaching change and a semi-healthy roster might be what this team needed to finally stack some wins.
The Bulls face another tough assignment tomorrow night as the Boston Celtics come to town in what will be the team’s 2nd matchup with the Bulls. The Celtics have been hot winning their last four games.