The Chicago Bulls took on old friend Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in a late Friday night game. The first half would remind you of a Bulls vs. Heat game from the early 2010s with low-scoring and physical basketball being played. At the end of the half, the Bulls and Heat were tied 42-42. The Bulls kept it close during the third quarter and the teams entered the final frame separated by only two points. Then, the Heat just walked away with it. Ultimately, Miami prevailed by a score of 101-90.
Of course, what can you do when taking on legend Goran Dragic who has been waiting over ten years to get his revenge on the Bulls for the Derrick Rose dunk? Dragic had no points at the midway point but still managed 25 points by game's end.
The Bulls came out of the All-Star break about as flat as a team possibly could have, falling 127-105 to a shorthanded 76ers squad. Chicago entered the matchup with the Heat at 16-19, though, and still vying for a potential playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fans were ready for the Bulls to come out with more life against the 19-18 Heat. Lauri Markkanen played well against the 76ers and Otto Porter Jr. was also back, so there was anticipation about how well the team could perform with Markkanen and Porter Jr. having shaken off the initial rust.
LaVine Stuffs the Stat Sheet; Thad's Gonna Thad
Zach LaVine at least revitalized his scoring tonight. The All-Star posted 30 points on 62.5% shooting and a 75% clip from deep. He also threw in six rebounds and six assists plus a couple of blocks for good measure. Of course, he continued his trend of throwing the ball all around the floor -- almost as much to the other team as his own. He had five more turnovers, which was as much as the rest of the Bulls's starting lineup combined.
Meanwhile, Thaddeus Young had another great showing off the bench. In 26 minutes, he posted a double-double of 13 points and ten rebounds. Apparently, the Bulls are not interested in trade offers for Young, so they clearly value both his contributions and his veteran leadership. He continues to be one of the only consistently fun players to watch on this team.
Lauri's Solid Once More
Lauri Markkanen was pretty much the lone bright spot against the 76ers in the Bulls' blowout loss. He posted 23 points on an incredible 7/7 from deep. Against the Heat, the Finnish forward put up 20 points and six rebounds on 44.4% shooting and 40% from three. As he tries to shrug off the injury bug and label by finishing the year strong, he is off to a good start in his first two games.
Everyone Else Sucked
That heading is putting it bluntly, I guess. After LaVine's 30, Markkanen's 20, and Young's 13, the next leading scorer was Coby White with eight points on 23% shooting. No one else scored more than five points. Would you like to bask in Patrick Williams' matching three turnovers and three points on 16.6% shooting? Maybe you'll love Wendell Carter Jr.'s four points on 20% shooting. My favorite is a team statistic: the Bulls took seven free throws as a team. The officials were mostly letting the two teams play, but that is almost the most impressive stat I have ever seen in the worst way.
What's On Tap Next?
The Bulls will limp into a Sunday night matchup against the 17-20 Toronto Raptors. While you may think the two teams will be evenly matched because of their similar records, I'm essentially ready to guarantee the Bulls lose by ten or more. They seem lost out of the break, so let's see how Billy Donovan and company respond. Stay up-to-date on the Bulls with articles, analysis, and podcasts from Bulls On Tap.