CHICAGO – It’s been a rough week-and-a-half for the Bulls, but Saturday figured to give them a shot to get out of their recent funk.
The Cavaliers were on their way to town with a worse record than the hosts, having lost three of their last four games. Still, nothing is guaranteed with this Bulls’ team that remains without Zach LaVine and continuing to build chemistry which is essentially a new group since the trade deadline.
Yet over the course of 48 minutes, the Bulls managed to stop their recent trend at lest for a night, and they’d had two players to thank.
Nikola Vucevic scored 25 points while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out five assists, but he had help of the bench. Without a game in double-digits in points since April 8th – a span of five contests – Lauri Markkanen scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
Each player played a part in putting Cleveland away in the final two mintues in a 106-96 win that snaps a five-game skid. It put the Bulls back in a tie for tenth place in the Eastern Conference – which is the final play-in spot, with 16 games left to play.
Markkanen led the way for the Bulls in the third quarter when they established a lead after trailing by two at the break. The forward scored seven points as they outscored the Cavaliers 33-21 to take a ten-point lead to the fourth.
Cleveland would cut the lead down to three with 2:30 left when the Bulls’ stars of the evening put it away. Markkanen finished his scoring with a three-pointer to push the lead to six. Vucevic took care of the rest, scoring seven-straight points to push the lead to 13 and out of reach for the Cavaliers.
Both players produced what’s been a rare night for the Bulls as of late as a long losing streak comes to an end.