DALLAS – From the time that Marcus Smart fell on his ankle going for a rebound in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Celtics, the Bulls weren’t sure if they’d have their starting forward on Monday.
The injury to Lauri Markkanen kept him out of that loss at the United Center and looked as if it would sideline him for the game against the Mavericks two days later.
Lauri WILL start tonight vs. Dallas. https://t.co/Xw0fZAsZbO
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 7, 2020
But Markkanen continued to improve, and after warm-ups was inserted into the starting lineup at American Airlines Arena in hopes of stopping the Bulls’ three-game losing streak.
Despite the injury, the forward played well in his 36 minutes on the floor, delivering one of his better performances of the season. Yet an even better game from a young NBA star canceled out his performance and kept the Bulls’ slump in the new year going for another night.
Bolstered by a 21-point third quarter, Luca Doncic scored a game-high 36 points to help Dallas to a 118-110 win that drops the Bulls to 13-24 on the season.
Markkanen did what he could, scoring a team-high 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the floor with four three-pointers along with a team-high nine rebounds. It was his first 20-point performance of the new year and his third-highest point total of the season to date, all coming after the ankle injury.
Yet Doncic’s big third quarter gave the Mavericks a lead they wouldn’t give up, as they found their shooting stroke in a strong fourth quarter in which they built as much as a 14-point lead. A pair of three-pointers by Markkanen and a late-game slam by Daniel Gafford made the score a bit more respectable, but the result remains the same as it has so far in 2020.