By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Bulls stopped the Miami Heat’s seven game win streak with a concerted effort and won 119-111 at the United Center on Martin Luther King, Jr Day.
Justin Holiday had a great shooting day making seven three-pointers en route to a team leading 25 points. The Bulls as a team were 16 for 39 from long-range, making it the 8th straight game the team has made at least ten three-pointers, a franchise record.
Lauri Markkanen hit his 100th 3 pointer in the game, his 41st, making him the fastest player in NBA history to hit 100 three-pointers. Zach LaVine had a strong game scoring 18 points in less than 20 minutes of action. He had a four point play just before the end of the first half.
A while back, this team was languishing in last place in the Eastern conference. Not so anymore. At 17-27, they show potential and promise. As long as LaVine’s surgically repaired knee holds up.
Nikola Mirotic had a hard time getting started. With LaVine on the bench, Mirotic helped his team big-time, scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter to hold off the Heat.
The Heat had three players score at least 20 points. Goran Dragic had 22, Kelly Olynyk had 21, and Wayne Ellington had 20 points. The Heat scored 39 points in the fourth quarter but the Bulls had a 12 point lead heading into the final frame, and Mirotic’s great fourth, was the key. Kris Dunn had ten assists and six points and went three for eleven from the floor in an off night. But LaVine came through in just his second game back and played well.
Suddenly, this group is showing some resolve, talent, and court-wise maturity for such a young team. Markkanen is a rookie but is playing beyond his years. Dunn is in his second season and is showing why the Bulls were so keen to get him in the Butler deal. For LaVine, the arrow points up. He says he wants to be the “guy” –who players look to in key moments. For him, that time is coming.
And, where would this team be without the play of Niko Mirotic? Right now, Mirotic is the man for Chicago. Trade rumors are afloat on the status of Mirotic. It is hoped the team doesn’t move him.