Lauri Markkanen Breaks Out Of Slump In Bulls' Win

Markkanen had 24 points, the first time he eclipsed the 20-point mark since Oct. 23.

Cody Westerlund
November 20, 2019 - 10:31 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- As he was mired in a weeks-long slump, Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen received advice from seemingly everyone.

He was thankful for the sentiment, but he didn’t exactly accept or retain every message.

“I’ll take all the advice, but some of them just come out the other ear,” Markkanen said. “But obviously everybody tries to help and I really appreciate the thought. There’s been a lot of people that tried to figure it out. But I think it’s just the work.”

That work paid off – at long, long last in Markkanen’s mind – as he scored 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting to help lead the Bulls to a 109-89 win against the Pistons on Wednesday night at the United Center. It was a notable performance because of Markkanen’s prolonged struggles previously, as he entered the day shooting 36.2 percent overall and 26.8 percent from 3-point range.

Markkanen hadn’t topped the 20-point threshold since the Bulls’ season opener on Oct. 23, a stretch of 13 games, until Wednesday.

“This is just a start,” Markkanen said. “I got to keep working. But like I said, it feels good to see at least a couple fall.

“Just try to stay confident knowing you’ve put the work in – that’s what it’s all about, knowing it’s going to turn around.”

After reviewing film and having plenty of conversations with his coaches, Markkanen did arrive at a key conclusion in assessing his struggles -- “that nothing’s wrong” with his shot mechanically.

He received a dose of confidence when an early 3-pointer took a friendly bounce and rolled in, and Markkanen was aggressive in attacking the hoop and went 7-of-11 from the free-throw line. He also had just one turnover in 29 minutes, which marked progress after he’d been carelessly loose with the ball recently.

“You guys can see that we need that,” said guard Tomas Satoransky, who added 15 points and seven rebounds. “Whenever he catches fire or scores some easy points – like the two dunks he had at the beginning, he has relief and he has his confidence back. It puts less pressure on our first unit. He needed that personally, and we needed that too.”

Markkanen’s effort helped the Bulls snap a three-game losing streak and improve to 5-10. They’ll have a tougher test in hosting the Jimmy Butler-led Heat on Friday evening.

“You keep pounding the rock, man, and you break through,” coach Jim Boylen said of Markkanen. “He’s been pounding the rock and doing everything we’ve asked. He’s fought through things and he’s stayed positive and he’s worked and he’s done his extra work and he’s in the weight room. You just keep working at it, man. I don’t think there’s any secret sauce.”

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.