When the Bulls get it going right, the future seems so bright. Lauri Markkanen transformed into his superhero alter-ego “The Finnisher” and provided a secondary scoring punch with 21 points to support Zach LaVine’s team-leading 25, as the Bulls held on to defeat Minnesota 117-110. Too often this season, mild-mannered Lauri has let the flawed offensive scheme dictate his level of contribution. Zach abandoned strict adherence to the scheme early on…and immediately rose to an All-Star level of play. Lauri is hesitant to disobey coaching specifics – and it has cost him. Less Clark Kent and more Finnisher would fix the issue. I have no doubt he’ll get there, urged along by teammates and coaches. Maybe it’s part of Jim Boylen’s long-term plan to draw out that inner fire lying dormant within Markkanen. I sure hope that there’s a bigger picture in view.
Karl Anthony Towns is an unstoppable force, even with a bad knee. Okay, so the Bulls are missing the injured Wendell Carter Jr. and his shot-swatting backup Daniel Gafford. But Towns is a terror inside and out. He racked up 40 points on one leg. But that doesn’t mean the Bulls got zero production from the 5 spot. On the contrary. Luke Kornet put up 15 points, mostly in the 1st half. And Twitter-pundit target Cristiano Felicio notched a double-double on hustle plays and offensive rebounds. It’s a good reminder about Felicio and the guy at the end of every bench on an NBA roster. Cris more talented and accomplished in his profession than most anyone watching. So think twice before you skewer a professional athlete, Twitter tough guys.
Andrew Wiggins woke up in the 2nd half and showed off his old Maple Jordan moves. The T-Wolves erased a big Bulls lead and made it a contest. The Bulls played good team ball, however – with everyone pitching in. Kris Dunn filled up the stat sheet and Chandler Hutchison played quality minutes once again. If he starts playing through bumps and bruises and stays in the rotation, the kid could be a player. K.C. Johnson complimented Coby White’s defense during a recent broadcast, causing me to pay more attention to the rookie’s rotations and awareness. Very promising. Coby seems to be in the right position more often than not. Two-way players are so key. If Coby keeps upping his game on both ends of the court…and Zach makes the All-Star team – earning that special referee All-Star only treatment…and Lauri dons The Finnisher costume…and Wendell Carter plays a whole season…and the rest of the team fills roles…The future could be bright. Of course, Minnesota isn’t exactly the Milwaukee Bucks in terms of talent. The Bulls need to string together some games like this and compete against top-level teams. Then who knows what they could grow into…I remain eternally hopeful.
Sacramento in town Friday…See Red.