The Bulls received some bad news prior to Friday night’s game against the Pacers when Kris Dunn was a late scratch with knee tendinitis. But the Bulls didn’t let that bad news linger for long, as they promptly came out and put forth one of their best offensive performances of the season in a 119-107 victory. The Bulls tied a franchise record with 18 made 3-pointers on 39 attempts and have now won seven home games in a row.
Lauri Markkanen and Nikola Mirotic aka the European Splash Brothers (too soon?) scorched the nets. Markkanen went for a career-high 32 points on 11 of 17 from the field and 5 of 9 from long range. Mirotic had 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting and 8 of 16 from distance. They both did this in only 28 minutes of action. And while Markkanen was stroking it from long range, his coolest play was this put-back dunk over Bojan Bogdanovic:
I dont know what to say. Lauri is a freak pic.twitter.com/Td2hO5LebZ— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) December 30, 2017
With Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez pouring in 12 points apiece, the Bulls got 84 points out of their primary frontcourt players.
Meanwhile, Grant did an admirable job as the emergency starter. I was extremely critical of Grant’s performance as the starting point guard earlier this season before Dunn took over, but Jerian had a stellar performance tonight (at least offensively) with 11 points and 12 assists plus three triples. Grant’s counterpart, Darren Collison, did get the best of him with a monster 30-point night on 12-of-16 shooting with Victor Oladipo out, but Grant did well to guide the Bulls’ massive offensive output.
Grant had the Bulls humming from the outset. He had six points and five assists in a 37-point opening frame that also featured 10 of Lopez’s 12 points. Mirotic canned his first three triples of the night off the bench to help give the Bulls a 10-point lead after one. That lead ballooned to 18 points in the second quarter before settling back at 12 at halftime.
The Pacers threatened in the third quarter, but Markkanen almost single-handedly kept them at bay. The rookie scored 13 of the Bulls’ 22 points in the frame to keep the advantage at nine heading into the fourth quarter. That’s when Mirotic blew the game open again with a flurry of triples.
In addition to the 18 3-pointers, the Bulls shot 50.6 percent from the field and handed out 31 assists. Five players had at least three assists as the ball moved well most of the night. This was an especially nice possession:
Look at the movement. All five touch the ball pic.twitter.com/xkqw2rbQCI— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) December 30, 2017
The Bulls have won 10 of 12 and sit at 13-22 on the season after their woeful start (only five out of the playoffs ... ). A tough New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day back-to-back awaits against the Wizards and Blazers.