The Bulls were facing a injury-plagued team on a back-to-back, but it’s still newsworthy when they make a game of things. And they not only did that in tonight’s game in Brooklyn but the Bulls and Nets put on a fast-paced high-scoring affair. The Bulls continued their most recent string of late-game collapses towards a final here of 122-117, though it’s better than being blown out.
And best news was that Lauri Markkanen performed very well. In 31 minutes (a bit low...) scored 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Shooting from the best areas of the court, he was 3-7 from three and had a few emphatic finishes inside.
The Bulls were out and running in this one (though as has been the case for much of the Boylen era, it slowed down in the second half), and Markkanen’s best play may have been this do-it-all break with Kris Dunn connecting from three.
Hey, a possession that should give you some optimism! Markkanen bringing the ball up on a grab-and-go (he's been good in that role) and passing out to Dunn for a spot up 3. Nice to see these guys getting a chance to try stuff out. pic.twitter.com/ncq4MeHuqj— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 30, 2019
Dunn was actually 2-3 from three in this game, but overall it was another pretty terrible game from him. Zero assist to six turnovers, and the Bulls had 11 first-half turnovers then a brief reprieve before a half-dozen more in the final quarter alone. Zach LaVine had several in some unwise drives to the lane, though had enough scoring binges (including some late shameless stat-padding getting uncontested inside looks when they needed threes) to finish with 26.
The other big story from the Bulls offense was Jabari Parker, who had 22 on 10-15 shooting, but he and especially the Parker-Portis frontcourt tandem were total train wrecks defensively in this game. Despite Parker’s scoring the Bulls bench was outworked and outscored 59-48 and their runs led by some ridiculous Shabazz Napier makes kept pushing the Nets ahead. And then late in the game, though the Bulls were keeping close, they simply could not get stops.
This game likely wouldn’t have been that close if not for some hope-they-miss-threes defense actually working. The Nets hoist a ton of them, and despite more than a few wide-open looks only made below 29% with potential-three-point-shootout-participant Joe Harris going 2-7 and D’Angelo Russell going 2-8. To Russell’s credit, he was giving Dunn and Harrison fits and finished with 8 FT makes to get to a game-high 30 points.
So, for once, this wasn’t a totally discouraging night for the Bulls. We know they are going to suck on defense and at least one important young piece had a great game. However if you want to get existential, the Boylen era was meant to be about buying in to get good defensive habits or whatever, and not only was that not shown in this game but the players themselves at this point are likely are either discouraged over the losses at or ambivalent besides just ‘getting theirs’, and that’s not good for the ol’ development!
With that sad realization to close things, I’ll instead leave you with a fro-eclipse