The Chicago Bulls followed up their impressive win against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday with a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
Zach LaVine returned to his All-Star form, dropping 40 points in 31 minutes after a somewhat uncharacteristic scoring night against the Raptors a few nights ago. Lauri Markkanen also had a good outing of his own, chipping in with 22 points. LaVine and Markkanen's efforts move the Bulls to 2-2 after the All-Star break.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 21 points, while Moses Brown had a double-double, dropping 20 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in a career night for him.
The Bulls looked to continue their strong play after beating the Toronto Raptors a couple nights ago. The lineup experimentation continued with both Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky starting over Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White, respectively. Both Carter Jr. and White had strong performances against the Raptors and this game was an important step for them to gain more confidence and place some trust into Head Coach Billy Donovan's mind.
The Thunder were without three starters for this game. Al Horford, Lu Dort, and Darius Bazley all sat on Tuesday and their presence was missed. The Thunder struggled to hang with the Bulls as the game progressed into the second half.
Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky Continue to Provide a Veteran Punch
Young and Satoransky continued to provide a veteran presence at the start of the game. The Bulls dropped 42 points in the first quarter alone. Despite a 22-3 run by the Thunder midway through the second quarter to take the lead, the Bulls were able to take take control of the remainder of the game behind LaVine and the vets.
Young was on his way to a triple-double, dropping 17 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out six assists. Despite playing in almost 1,000 games in his career, Young has never recorded a triple-double despite coming close on many occasions. Satoransky put forth a solid effort as well with 13 points and seven assists.
These two veterans will continue to be integral parts of Head Coach Billy Donovan's rotations as he continues to teach the younger guys how to start fast and finish games strong. It will be interesting to see how long they remain in the starting lineup this season.
LaVine Played with the Thunder All Night Long
This was Zach Lavine's night. You could tell all night long that he was looking to be aggressive and put points on the board. Speaking of aggressive, look at his insane alley-oop to begin the first quarter.
LaVine ended the night with 40 points, shooting 15/20 from the field and 7/12 from the three point line. It's not a surprise to see LaVine with such a large stat line, but what was most impressive was his efficiency. Another mind-boggling stat for LaVine: the nine games this season he has scored 40+ points and made 5+ threes. Every other player in Bulls history to score 40+ points and make 5+ threes have combined for eight total games.
Tonight showed that LaVine meant business and he will need to keep that going if the Bulls have any hope of making the playoffs in about two months.
Lauri Markkanen Showed He Can be Aggressive When He Wants
Midway through the first quarter, Lauri Markkanen made all Chicago sports fans forget that the Chicago Bears signed Andy Dalton earlier in the day with a ferocious dunk over Moses Brown.
This dunk was crazy. Lauri was taking no prisoners and showed real signs of aggression. Consistency and health have been issues for him all season, but if Lauri can start playing like this, it will only help the Bulls in the long run.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls look to wrap up their home stand on a positive note as they host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM CDT and the game can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago.