With Zach LaVine and Otto Porter Jr. out Wednesday against the Wizards, the Bulls put a pretty tanktastic starting lineup out on the floor, leaving a very tanktastic bench as well. Of course, the Bulls were still playing a bad Wizards team falling out of the playoff hunt, and what ensued what weird March basketball at its finest.
The Bulls emerged from the mess with their second straight win in a 126-120 overtime affair. Lauri Markkanen broke out of his slump in a big way, going for 32 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while shooting 12-of-21 from the field. Markkanen hit five 3-pointers, including the final dagger in the last minute of overtime to put the Bulls up five points.
Markkanen’s last 3-pointer was the Bulls’ third of the overtime period, with Kris Dunn also knocking down two of his own in one of his best performances of the season. Dunn wasn’t particularly efficient with 26 points on 10-of-24 shooting (3-of-7 from 3), but he did hit those two OT triples and also notched 13 assists and six rebounds. Dunn oscillated between brilliant and bad throughout this game, with some incredible buckets and passes mixed in with ugly wide-open bricks, poor decision-making and untimely missed free throws. Still, this kind of game is about the best you can expect from him at this point, and if anything perhaps this builds confidence and/or trade value.
In addition to these performances, the Bulls got some unexpected boosts with LaVine and Porter out. Cristiano Felicio scored a season-high 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting off the bench, while fellow reserve Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had 13 points and hit three triples. And then there was fill-in starter Shaq Harrison, who recorded 18 points, six rebounds and four steals. It was Harrison’s six straight points at around the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter that appeared to put the game away for the Bulls, but the Wizards weren’t done yet and came storming back.
The final minute of regulation featured plenty of silliness, with Bobby Portis committing a flagrant foul on Markkanen by smacking him in the face. Insert your Portis-Nikola Mirotic joke here:
Bulls up 1, 49 seconds left and Portis commits the flagrant against Markkanen. Not a smart play. pic.twitter.com/v2i4qYO4uL— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 21, 2019
The Bulls had a chance to put the game away when they got the ball back, but a bad missed 3-pointer from Dunn kept the Wizards alive. The Wizards scored off a second-chance opportunity to make it a one-point game, and then Bradley Beal tied the game on a mid-range jumper after Ryan Arcidiacono split a pair of free throws.
The Bulls’ final effort to win the game in regulation left me cackling:
I can't believe this. Shoulda been a DHO 3 for Lauri pic.twitter.com/cDCTdZ8N2J— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) March 21, 2019
While the Bulls nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, the Wizards were terrible in overtime and Dunn’s 3-pointers provided the necessary cushion.
Jabari Parker had himself a revenge game to lead the Wizards with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and it looked like he was going to single-handedly carry the visiting team to a win in the fourth quarter. He scored 10 straight Wizards points in the final frame of regulation, but the Bulls kept answering his buckets. Just look at this sequence:
The Bulls getting big baskets from Markkanen and Dunn (to a lesser extent) wasn’t all that surprising, but clutch buckets from guys like TLC, Felicio and later Harrison were a major factor in this outcome. For those rooting for the bottom three (the Cavs did win again), you can really only shrug your shoulders when your worst offensive players are hitting those kinds of shots.
The Wizards also weren’t helped by a subpar Beal performance. While he finished with 27/7/7, he shot just 7-of-19 from the field, turned the ball over six times and was a team-worst minus-12. Beal was pretty pissed off after the game about the Wizards’ performance and general effort level, and he really should be given an undermanned Bulls team badly outhustled them, which helped the home team get 13 more shot attempts. The Bulls also poured in 66 paint points against the Wizards’ porous defense.