by Richard Kagan
The Chicago Bulls are a streaky team. A few weeks back ,that seems like a half season ago, the Bulls had lost ten in a row. Then Niko Mirotic returned from his facial injuries and the team starts to win. The Bulls are doing some more winning, like ten of its last twelve games.
The Bulls (13-22) beat back the Indiana Pacers 119-107, who were missing Victor Oladipo, its leading scorer, due to a sore knee. He sat out and the Bulls took advantage. Lauri Markkanen, the composed rookie forward from Finland, had a career high 32 points. Nikola Mirotic, who shot eight of sixteen trey attempts, went crazy from the outside. He had the hot hand, hitting almost anything he put up, scored 28 points. The two forwards combined for 60 points en route to the Bulls third win in a row.
Jerian Grant filled in for Kevin Dunn, who missed the game due to an injury that is considered “day to day.” Grant scored 11 and dished out a game high 12 assists. Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis had 12 points apiece.
Suddenly, the Bulls look more like a playoff contender than a bottom-feeder, looking for a high lottery pick. The culture of the Bulls changed quickly upon Mirotic’s return. Kevin Dunn has recently played some terrific ball. And, it is nice to see Grant fill in well for the injured Dunn. Confidence on the squad is high. Guys are having fun again.
Now, the focus is on the return of Zach LaVine, the point guard with dash and jump. If he performs well, in spite of his ACL surgically repaired knee, then the Bulls might have something. LaVine is scheduled to practice with the team to see where his confidence and conditioning are in the coming days. He is about to face full practice conditions and the Bulls coaching staff is eager to see how he responds.
It might be a better New year for the Bulls then we had thought a few months ago.