SACRAMENTO – A few things happened on Monday night that wasn’t typical of this particular trip for the Bulls or their first 21 games of the season.
For one, they were able to get a lead in the fourth quarter and hold onto it to pick up a victory. Second, they were able to get big efforts from two of their bigger stars together to make it work.
Zach LaVine (28 points) and Lauri Markkanen (20) each scored over 20 points in the same game for the first time all season as the Bulls held on for a 113-106 victory. It helps them salvage one of a three-game west coast swing that included losses last week to the Warriors and the Blazers, improving their record to 7-14 on the season.
Like always, the ending brought a few nerve-wracking times as a 12-point lead was cut to two in the final minutes of the game. But Markkanen followed Buddy Hield’s three-pointer that cut it to two with a pair of free throws, then Zach LaVine scored seven points down the stretch to prevent a late collapse.
The pair had failed to score 20 in a game this season before Monday night, but it was difficult with Markkanen’s struggles this season. In his 35-point opening night against the Hornets, LaVine had just 16 in the loss on October 23rd in Charlotte. When Lauri to 24 in a win over Detroit on November 20th, Zach had only five points on 2-of-11 shooting from the field.
But finally the pair but together strong offensive outputs on the same night, with LaVine going 7-of-13 with five three-pointers on seven attempts. Markkanen was more aggressive on the night and knocked down 6-of-12 shots from the floor including 4-of-8 from behind the arc to reach 20 points for the third time this season.
If things start to work like the Bulls’ hoped, such a performance from the team’s stars won’t take so long to happen again together. But when it comes to this Bulls’ team, you’re just happy to see the positive whenever it shows up.