Lauri Markkanen scores 31 points, Bulls beat Cavs 112-92
CLEVELAND — Lauri Markkanen put up big numbers again, but wasn’t interested in his statistics.
Chicago’s rising star had something more important on his mind.
“We knew we haven’t had a winning streak yet, so we wanted to break that,” he said.
Markkanen scored 31 points and the Bulls won consecutive games for the first time this season, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-92 on Sunday night.
Markkanen followed up on his a season-high 32 points Friday night in a victory over Orlando.
“I don’t know why you want to talk to me again tonight,” he said. “I say the same thing every game. I’m just trying to stay aggressive.”
Markkanen had 14 points in the third quarter, including a four-point play late in the period that sparked an 18-5 run in the game between the teams that began the game tied for last in the Eastern Conference.
The 6-foot-10 forward from Finland hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and made the free throw after being fouled by David Nwaba. Justin Holiday had a 3-pointer on the next possession, extending the lead to 84-72.
Cavaliers coach Larry Drew told his players following the game he was disappointed they didn’t play with more energy, particularly when Chicago took control after Cleveland led 67-66 midway through the third period.
“It just seems when we hit a bump in the road things get really rocky real fast,” he said. “It’s something we have to learn how to play through.”
The Bulls shot 64 percent in the second half, leaving forward Larry Nance Jr. to point out that the Cavaliers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
“It’s heart,” he said. “It’s will. We’re letting guys have career nights on us. That’s something we have to take personally. We’ve got to man up.”
Kris Dunn added 17 points, and Holiday had 15 for Chicago.
Nance led Cleveland with 20 points, and Cedi Osman and Jordan Clarkson each had 17. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton was 3 of 16 from the field and scored six points. Cleveland has lost five of six.
Nwaba sprained his left ankle when he fell awkwardly in the fourth quarter. He was down for several moments and was helped to the locker room by his teammates.
Markkanen made 11 of 18 shots and had five 3-pointers. He hit two 3-pointers and had 10 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
The Bulls are 4-6 under Jim Boylen. He took over when Fred Hoiberg was fired Dec. 3.
“We’re thankful for the win,” Boylen said. “I’m proud of them. We’re in this together. You have to credit the guys for being coachable and teachable, and they’re becoming reliable. It’s fun.”