NBC Sports Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Lauri Markkannen was doubtful as of this morning, but has since been ‘upgraded’ to questionable with the ankle he sprained on Saturday.
Chandler Hutchison is active and may actually play in the game.
For the Mavericks, they’re - like several other teams - using the Bulls as their rest opponent, as Kristaps Porzingis is out. But Tim Hardaway Jr. is probable to play after missing the prior three games.
A sobering reminder of the state of the Chicago Bulls rebuild in year three.
To be fair, at the time I wrote this (Sunday night 7:00 ET) the Bulls were in a three-way tie for the seventh-worst record in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons. Plus, there are more than 40 games remaining and the lottery scrambles the spots anyway so a lot has to happen for the Bulls to end up with the seventh pick for the fourth year in a row.
Regardless, it is a stain on the organization that the Bulls are in position to pick in the same spot for the fourth year in a row. Especially when that spot is so far up in the lottery and when playoffs was a publicly vocalized goal ahead of this season.
Meanwhile, despite losing three of their last four games, the Dallas Mavericks have turned into one of the best teams in the league.
It all starts with that Luka dude. At 20 years old, he is flirting with averaging a triple-double this season. NBA legends are already immortalizing him. Opponents are realizing how instrumental he is to the success of the team as a whole (the Mavericks are almost eight points per 100 possessions better when he plays), and are taking drastic steps to limit his impact. Per ESPN.com writer Tim MacMahon.
“They’re beating the s--- out of him. He’s handling it well, but teams are taking liberties on him. We saw it with Dirk [Nowitzki] for 20 years here -- my 11 years -- all the time. Taking physical liberties on him, trying to knock him down, beat him up, stuff like that. It’s not good. It’s not good. He’s handling it very well, but it’s happening every game.”
Mark Cuban loves his European players (there are four European-born players on his roster right now). The Mavericks second best player is probably Kristaps Porzingis, one of those European guys obviously. It seems like he was one of the first guys to get the unicorn moniker thrown his way. Things obviously didn’t work out for him in New York and he continues to try to regain the form that earned him that nickname.
But, Porzingis is injured tonight and Tim Hardaway Jr., one of the Knicks better players, is questionable so again the Bulls are facing an opponent that is missing key players.
Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle have also turned an obscure German named Maxi Kleber into a productive NBA player. Kleber has improved in each of his three seasons with the Mavericks. He is 6-foot-10-inches tall and is shooting over 40 percent from 3-point land so there is always going to be a place for guys like that in the NBA.
The Bulls caught the Mavericks in a stretch where they aren’t playing their best basketball. Will Dallas figure it out and dehorn a Bulls team they are much better than? Or will the Bulls salvage the final game of this four-game stretch against quality opponents?
The answers to these questions made everybody lose sleep last night so you better tune in.
Luka Doncic and fellow 2018 NBA draftee Trae Young are both top five in the NBA in points and assists per game.
Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen remains the king of the postgame sound bite.
Jim Boylen said he used two timeouts in 3rd because he didn't like team's lack of energy. Had to burn his last one with 4:09 left for injured Markkanen. "We practice to not have timeouts. I'm not in fear mode that we don't have timeouts because we're prepared to not have them."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 5, 2020