Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) dribbles the ball against Pistons guard Luke Kennard (5).

Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports

Observations: Bulls Beat Pistons To Snap Skid

Otto Porter Jr. stepped up, but Lauri Markkanen was benched late again.

Cody Westerlund
November 01, 2019 - 10:59 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) – The Bulls earned a much-needed 112-106 win against the Pistons at the United Center on Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

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Here are the notes and observations of the evening.

--- Otto Porter Jr. had his best game of the young season, scoring 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and adding six rebounds and four assists. His stellar play came after he had a meeting with coach Jim Boylen several days prior about how to get more involved and comfortable in the offense.  

“Otto had that look in his eye like he wasn’t going to let us lose,” Boylen said.

Porter was at his best in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and recording two assists in the first five minutes of the frame as the Bulls let him attack and initiate the offense more. Boylen indicated the Bulls were looking to get Porter more involved, and what Porter liked was that his production came in rhythm of the offense.

“That was just free-flow of the offense and just me being aggressive and my teammates just finding me,” Porter said.

“That’s just part of playing basketball. If you see one of your teammates get it going, you got to keep feeding the hot hand. In that case, I was the one who got it going early in the third quarter and we just kept going with it.”

--- Porter’s production was key because Lauri Markkanen had another uneven game. He scored 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes, struggled on defense at times and was benched down the stretch for the second straight game.

The reason for Markkanen riding the pine was two-fold. His play left the Bulls desiring more. He also hurt his left side, a development that became apparent when he exited with 9:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. Markkanen was tended to by a Bulls trainer and briefly left the bench for the locker room, but he was available to return, Boylen said.

Instead, just like in a loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday, Boylen opted to use Thaddeus Young at power forward late.

“Word was, ‘How’s he doing?’” Boylen said of his conversation with the training staff. “’He’s OK if you want to give him a shot.’ And I felt good with Thad in there.”

Markkanen maintained postgame that he should be fine for Chicago’s game at Indiana on Sunday.

“I’m good,” Markkanen said. “I’m going to be all right. I don’t really know what happened. I don’t remember any specific play. It’s my side.”

As for being benched in crunch time twice in three days?

“You always love to play,” Markkanen said. “As you guys know, I'm a team-first guy, so whatever lineup is working, I'm cool. I'm going to do whatever the team needs. Of course you want to be out there, but it's not my decision."

Of Markkanen’s nine field-goal attempts, seven were 3-pointers. He indicated perimeter-heavy approach is part of the Bulls’ offense and added, “I’m taking what the defense gives me.”

--- Zach LaVine's decision-making and tendency to force shots late in games cost the Bulls on several occasions in their ugly 1-4 start. For a time Friday, it looked like LaVine might be headed down the same path.

After checking back in with 6:56 left, LaVine had a pair of turnovers on bad passes and a missed layup in the next three minutes.

But then he stepped up with the biggest plays of the night. He drilled a stepback 3-pointer to put the Bulls up 102-100 with 3:32 left, then followed with another 3-pointer on the next possession to give Chicago the breathing room it needed.

LaVine finished with 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting, including 3-of-9 from 3-point range. He was 7-of-8 on free throws.

“I might not make every shot, but I know I’m not a person that’s going to be scared to take those big-time shots,” LaVine said.

LaVine also had six turnovers, which he acknowledged must improve.

“I know I draw attention, so trying to hit the pocket, trying to find the open man,” LaVine said. “Sometimes, I might even be forcing it a little too much and I’m getting some of those turnovers. I know my heart is in the right place. I know what I have to do down the stretch. I know what I have at the beginning of the game. I got to get us going offensively.”

--- Derrick Rose had 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting in just short of 25 minutes off the bench for the Pistons. The United Center crowd gave him a big ovation when he checked in midway through the first quarter, and "MVP" chants soon broke out when he went to the free-throw line. 

The Bulls had trouble staying in front of Rose all evening.

“He's as tough a cover in the league as there is right now,” Boylen said.

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