7 p.m., CDT; WGN
Utah Jazz point guard Raul Neto is out tonight with a concussion. Veteran Joe Johnson is out tonight with right wrist tendon instability. Forward Rodney Hood will play tonight after missing the last seven games with an achilles injury, but he will be on a minutes restriction. Jonas Jerebko is available after feeling under the weather the last couple of days.
Bulls star rookie Lauri Markkanen missed the game Monday with back spasms (an injury that has bothered him several times this season). He participated in the non-contact portions of practice yesterday, and will play tonight. He was good enough to play soccer pregame on Monday so the injury probably was never that serious.
Lauri Markkanen, mucha clase pic.twitter.com/PiPu6BIJaX— Marathonbet España (@Marathonbet_es) December 13, 2017
The Bulls need to get back on track and cut this winning crap. Behind the heroic efforts of the odd couple Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis, Chicago has won three games in a row and no longer reside alone in the cellar of the NBA where they belong.
Mirotic and Portis have done their best Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen impressions (okay not quite, but you get my point) over the last three games. Mirotic has averaged 16.3 points per game and has shot a scorching 50 percent from 3-point land, while Portis has averaged 14 points in 17.8 minutes per game on 73.1 percent from the field.
What is going on?
Welp the Bulls just capped a 3-game win streak with a 23-point win against the best team in the East. We are officially in the Upside Down pic.twitter.com/fwYV9BbC2y— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) December 12, 2017
The Utah Jazz should be well-rested, as they haven’t played since Dec. 9 and have a bunch of guys either on injured reserve or just coming off of it. So the stars are aligned for the Bulls to extend the current win streak to four.
On Nov. 22, the Jazz beat the Bulls 110-80 in Utah in a non-competitive game that featured a 14-for-35 deluge from 3-point land from the Jazz. Opponents have shot 37.1 percent from behind the 3-point line against the Bulls all season (tied for 24th in the NBA) so that is an area that the Bulls are vulnerable. In the Nov. 22 game, Derrick Favors poured in 23 points while Alec Burks and Hood added 15 and 19 points respectively. The Jazz had 51 points from the bench and the aforementioned Hood killed the Bulls in pick and rolls.
Kris Dunn will match up against Ricky Rubio (the guy he played behind in Minnesota last year), so maybe he has some extra incentive to have a good game. In the first matchup between the two teams, Dunn had 12 points and nine rebounds, but was a team-worst -23 in 28 minutes as the Jazz ran the Bulls out of the gym. To be fair, in the last ten games, Dunn has averaged 13.9 points, shot the ball 39.1 percent from 3-point land, and has dished out 6.3 assists to only 2.7 turnovers.
Donovan Mitchell (a rookie that a lot of Bulls fans were salivating over before the Bulls traded up in the draft) has quietly put together a fantastic rookie season. He’s another guy where you can say if Ben Simmons wasn’t eligible than he’d be a leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year.
The byproduct of the winning is the degree of joy derived from watching the Bulls has increased. David Nwaba is a revelation, and his high-energy play is reminiscent of the better times under Tom Thibodeau, so he alone makes this matchup intriguing. So, I guess come for Nwaba, stay to see if The Tank is ruined.