On Friday night, the Chicago Bulls came up short against the Atlanta Hawks despite a career-high of 50 points from Zach LaVine.
The Bulls put together a strong showing in the first half. They carried a 13-point lead into the locker room and looked to be in control en route to grabbing another victory. However, Trae Young and the Hawks had other plans and took the game away from the Bulls in the second half to earn a rather comfortable victory.
The Bulls entered this game looking to continue their winning ways of late. Having won their last three games, the Bulls came into this contest full of confidence. They were at full strength for the most part with only Garrett Temple sidelined due to an ankle injury.
The Hawks were without De'Andre Hunter, John Collins, Kris Dunn, and Cam Reddish. Despite the Hawks missing key players, the Bulls weren't able to pull away.
LaVine's Career Night
LaVine scored a career-high of 50 points with 39 of those coming in the first half of the game. He showed once again why he was an All-Star this season as he demonstrated various ways of scoring the ball and making his teammates around him better.
Another interesting note from the game was that LaVine's 39 points were the most scored by an individual player in the first half of a game this entire season. He also became only the fifth player in Bulls history to record a 50 point-game.
It was certainly a night to remember for LaVine and an entertaining game to watch from a fan's perspective.
There are still some growing pains for this team at times as LaVine and Nikola Vucevic continue to adjust to playing with each other. The Bulls will be at their best when both play aggressively and settle into their natural games.
With only 21 games remaining in the season, the Bulls will hope LaVine can continue to sustain this impressive level of play.
Lauri Markkanen Still Adjusting to Life off the Bench
Being pulled from the starting lineup in the middle of the season definitely comes with its ups and downs. After being replaced in favor of Thaddeus Young, Lauri Markkanen has had to find a new role for himself off the bench. Against the Hawks, he scored five points and grabbed five rebounds in 27 minutes of play. Prior to Friday's game, Markkanen was averaging 11.8 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 21 minutes of play and making the most of his minutes.
It is quite natural for some performance inconsistency to arise after such a change, but the Bulls will be hoping that Markkanen can continue to play with confidence as they head into the last 21 games of the season. If Lauri is playing at his best, it will only strengthen the bench unit and those playing around him.
The NBA is in Good Hands in the Future
Despite the Bulls' loss, this game was extremely entertaining. The battle between Zach LaVine and Trae Young was an example of two of the NBA's brightest stars going at it as LaVine went off for 50 points and Young posted an impressive 42 points.
A major takeaway is that the NBA is in great hands moving forward with a plethora of young talent around the league. It will be fun to see these two stars going at it again in the near future.
What's On Tap Next?
The Bulls will be back in action on Sunday night when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM CT and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago. Tune in to the Bulls On Tap podcast for postgame shows and further Bulls analysis and commentary.