Lauri Markkanen put Paul George in the spin cycle, as Stacey King might say. The Finnisher powered straight down the lane and threw up a floater with touch over George and Steven Adams. Bounce, bounce, bucket, ballgame. Bulls win 114-112 . Best game of the season, hands down.
Not only did they defeat a red hot OKC team, it wasn’t a fluke. The Bulls looked like they belonged. Call it the Markkanen Effect. Not to overstate it, but the 2nd year big man is a difference maker. His stroke was true on this night, nailing threes and throwing down tough a dunk on the way to 24 points. Jim Boylen obviously has made the Markksman the focal point of the Bulls offense, because he’s getting enough touches and attempts. But he’s not a chucker, Lauri will make the right play – like hitting Justin Holiday for a clutch three just a minute before his game-winner. In fact, that unselfishness set up the spin move he put on top defender George. PG13 anticipated a handoff to Just Holla, and instead he got taken to the cleaners. Lauri’s pro soccer player brother Eero was there for his first taste of Bulls basketball, and saw little bro come up huge:
Lauri’s shooting opens everything up for the Bulls offense. And his constantly evolving game gives me more and more confidence in his role as the centerpiece for the next great Bulls team. Markkanen with Zach LaVine as the 2nd scorer are two pieces of the puzzle. Wendell Carter Jr. seems like a solid complement as his game grows. My faith in Jabari Parker keeps growing. Jabari had another nice shooting and distributing night. Perhaps he fits in the Toni Kukoc 6th man role someday (I know I’m reaching a little. Jabari’s not even a lefty.) Interested to see a Bobby Portis/Jabari-led bench mob. Can they work together like Niko/Bobby of 2017? Might see Bobby and Kris Dunn back tonight. If not, soon. Either way, I’m bursting with happiness about the big home win over the Thunder. Big confidence boost for the team. Celtics tonight at UC. Let’s get another.