The cops did something different last week.
While the exercises take longer and there is a more energetic head coach jumping on the sidelines, the biggest difference that affects this team the most is the one they led to a Friday night win.
It had been Lauri Markkanens third game since he had contracted a sprained right elbow in training camp, and after two performances that tore the 21-year-old's game from the grate, he finally put together a performance that was the Bulls Hope becomes a constant.
Markkanen scored 24 points for a second game in a row, knocking down four 3-point goals and scoring the game with a shot over an outstretched Paul George and Steven Adams with 4.9 seconds remaining and Jim Boylen his first Give victory as NBA head coach.
"The big Finnish kid is not bad," said Boylen after the game. "He made some great tracks on the track."
Markkan's spin-move on George and the end of the layup on Adams and George will be the highlight of the night, but it ends a sequence for the just 21
The other beauty of Markkanen was his shots and shots in the first half. As they will do to many opponents this season, the Bulls abuse the best defense of the Thunder with Pick & Pops with LaVine and Markkanen. LaVine had nine sales, but also seven assists. It's a small sample size, but the bulls' ability to land with Markkanen has led LaVine to increase the last two games by 16.
Markkanen hit all four triples in the first half and the distance of the bulls The end of the ground was significantly better, as they scored 70 points and shot nearly 60 percent out of the field.
"Lauri clears the floor. He shoots the ball so well, especially when he gets his rhythm back, "LaVine said. "He helps me a lot because I always have a branch. I pull the double team that brings Lauri to the cup. I can always spread it for him. He fought much of the second half against foul, taking his third and fourth foul within six seconds just 90 seconds before the third quarter. He also flexed his elbow to put one screen down for Justin Holiday, and he was treated to the bench for almost 12 minutes.
Upon his return, however, he showed no negative effects of the compressed elbow. He hit a turnaround jumper on his first possession in the first quarter to tug the Bulls in five minutes, and his stealing from an insane pass from Russell Westbrook led to two Bulls free throws that brought the game to 100.
Once LaVine Got A Little Too Much Hero Ball Played With Jim Boylen, admitted the offense and provided several options for sets instead of LaVine doing it all herself. Markkanen was great, once on the pass card after Holiday and once on the last score.
"At first he is interested in the team. I do not know if it plays with his national team or whatever it is, but he's such a good team-mate, "said Boylen. "And he understands how to play. He has a lot of faith and he and I have a relationship where I think it's one of those deals we somehow look at and know it's just there. And I'm grateful for that.
The cops look different with the Markkanen on the ground. While Boylen, as head coach, took the lead, exercised for two and a half hours, and the cops returned to the basics, the headlines were the headlines, but with number 24 on the floor, another barrage is in the air. It only gets better with Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis coming back, possibly early in the morning against Boston, but the ups and downs of this season will continue with Markkanen.
I really do not care if I'll take the picture. I just want to do the right game, "he said. "We're just trying to make the right game, and I think everyone bought it."
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