To say that Markkanen got up for this one against his old team would be an understatement.
In three games against the Bulls last season, Lauri Markkanen averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assists. His best performance came on January 19 when the former seventh overall pick scored 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting (5-9 from deep).
Markkanen nearly matched that 28-point performance with 24 points in the first half on Monday night.
Markkanen shot 9-of-10 from the field in the first half and tied a career-best with five three-pointers. Markkanen’s blazing start helped Utah turn in a 53 percent shooting clip (11-24 3PT) in the first half as Utah took a 60-53 lead into the locker room.
For a long time, Lauri Markkanen — not Zach LaVine — was looked at as the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017. A combination of injuries and underperformance by Markkanen and a breakout season by LaVine in 2018-19, where he jumped from 16.7 points per game in his first season in Chicago to 23.7 points per game. LaVine would eclipse that total every year since, as he became a max player for the Bulls, and Lauri Markkanen was discarded ahead of last season.
Still, his efforts weren’t enough to help the Jazz end their four-game skid as the Bulls rode a huge third quarter into eventual double-digit lead minutes into the fourth. Markkanen scored just eight points in the second half and finished the game with 32, coming up six points shy of his career high.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Bulls with 26 points, most of which came in the second half as the Bulls picked up their first win in Salt Lake City since 2016.
Zach LaVine scored 20 points and logged six rebounds, five assists, and a steal, and the Bulls bench reminded everyone that they’re one of the best in the NBA, with Coby White pouring in 15 massive points off the pine and Andre Drummond putting up a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in 14 and a half minutes of action.
The Bulls have now won three of their last four since the start of last week, and the wins have come against the Celtics, Bucks, and Jazz — with two snapping long road losing streaks in Milwaukee and Utah — making that loss to the Thunder sting so much more. Still, the Bulls getting road victories against good teams is an excellent development, with three more big ones coming this week.
You can find the complete box score here.