After career game, Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen returns to Chicago

Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Bulls fans may not know what to watch when Lauri Markkanen returns to Chicago with the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Indeed, the 7-footer looks like the curly-haired Finnish big man who played the first four seasons of his NBA career from 2017-2021 for the organization.

However, his game has evolved so much since he last played in Chicago that he spent a season in Cleveland and was then traded to Utah, so it may not look like much to onlookers.

Markkanen entered Saturday’s contest following the best scoring game of his NBA career, scoring 49 points over the hosts Houston Rockets in Thursday’s 131-114 win over the Jazz.

The All-Star candidate made 15 of 27 field goal attempts, made six 3-pointers, made all 13 free-throw attempts, and grabbed eight rebounds to help Utah win. Helped snap a five-game skid. He took credit for those around him.

“I’ve said it many times this year. Thanks to my teammates and coaching staff, they put me in the right place to succeed.” and it just finished my shot.”

Mark Kanen has improved his game since joining the Jazz in a big offseason trade that sent Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. He averaged a career-best 24.5 points, which is 9 points higher than his four-year average in Chicago. He has shot 53.0 percent this season and he has 8.4 rebounds per game.

Jazz coach Will Hardy said, “He’s done a very good job of continuing to work on different ways he can impact the game offensively.” When he did, he showed that he knew how to play.”

Markkanen has played one game for Chicago since leaving the Bulls, scoring 28 points in a win in Cleveland on January 19, 2022.

He had 32 points and nine rebounds in Utah’s 114-107 home loss to the Bulls in November.

Chicago was led in that contest by DeMar DeRozan (26 points), Zach LaVine (20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Nikola Vucevic (16 points, 9 boards).

Utah had Friday off after traveling from Texas, but the Bulls thrashed the Philadelphia 76ers, 126-112. LaVine had 11 of 13 3-point attempts en route to 41 points as Chicago snapped the 76ers’ 11-game home winning streak.

Sixers guard James Harden said of LaVine, “He got hot. We couldn’t find him. We started to catch him. He was shooting so no one else. got the chance easily,” he said. “He’s just one of those games.”

LaVine had a career-high 13 3-pointers, while Vucevic took advantage of the absence of Sixers center Joel Embiid to record a triple-double with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists.

However, the Bulls didn’t get off to the best start, scoring a 28-11 run by 13 points before going into halftime.

Lavigne hit three 3-pointers during 1:27 of the third quarter to put Chicago up 88-74 and give the Bulls complete control.

“I didn’t think the game started well,” Bulls manager Billy Donovan said. thought.”

– Field level media

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