Tagged in: bulls

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Zach LaVine scored 24 points, Lauri Markkanen added 20 and the Chicago Bulls defeated the short-handed Toronto Raptors 114-102 on Thursday night.

The Bulls pulled within two games of idle Washington with two remaining for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and the final play-in spot.

Chicago led by 24 in the third quarter, with the Raptors holding out their best players, and came away with the victory despite a big effort by Stanley Johnson.

“We don’t control our own desiny, but we live another day, so to speak here,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s out of our hands. And I thought it was important that we show up and do our job as best we can.”

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LaVine, coming off a 41-point in Tuesday’s loss to Brooklyn, scored 16 in the second half.

Markkanen made six 3-pointers — one shy of his season high.

Coby White had 17 points and 10 assists. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 16 rebounds to help the Bulls win for the fourth time in five matches.

Johnson led Toronto with a career-high 35 points. The sixth-year pro nailed six 3s and grabbed 10 rebounds while playing turnover-free ball.

“You put a lot of work in, you put a lot of effort into something, to get a positive result and affection is always good,” Johnson said.

“As much as you kill yourself when you’re down, you’ve got to give yourself a pat on the butt when you’re up. … To be able to play a decent game, a good game, I’m happy.”

Rookie Jalen Harris scored a personal-best 17. Malachi Flynn added 16 points. But Toronto lost for the eighth time in nine games.

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Bulls complete sweep of Hornets in LaVine’s return, 120-99

For one night, the Chicago Bulls looked like a playoff-worthy team.

The return of Zach LaVine to the floor certainly had something to do with the Bulls’ inspired effort, which ended a four-game skid.

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 13 points after missing 11 matches due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bulls swept the season series from the Charlotte Hornets with a 120-99 victory on Thursday night.

“It definitely opened up some things for us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s return.

Said Vucevic: “We’re happy to have him back. We played a great game and that helped motivating us and getting us ready to play knowing he was back. So hopefully we will continue to play that way.”

Chicago is a long shot to make the postseason, still 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Bulls have six games left; the Wizards have five. LaVine said he felt “really tired” after the long layoff and wanted to make sure he didn’t try to do too much.

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“I told (my teammates), don’t expect me to try to go get 40 (points) the first night,” LaVine said.

LaVine averaged more than 30 points in his five previous games before being sidelined, but mostly deferred to his teammates in the first three quarters, attempting six shots. But he started to show his scoring ability with back-to-back jump shots to start the fourth quarter before Donovan took him out after 27 minutes of action.

“I thought there was a lot more opportunities for him to shoot the ball, and to try to go score and attack,” Donovan said.

“But with him being out three weeks and the respect he has for his teammates, and I think he just tried to fit in and take the shots that were there and not try to force things.”

P.J. Washington, who missed Charlotte’s last game for the birth of his child, had 24 points on six 3-pointers. 

Malik Monk added 20 points off the bench for the Hornets, who played without Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham.

Charlotte could have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament had it won.

But Vucevic would have none of it. He returned after missing two games with right adductor tightness and dominated. Looking fresh, he made 12 of 24 shots from the field and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, helping opening things up for his teammates.

“I think they just played harder than us every time we played them,” Washington said. “For us, it’s just about defense at the end of the day. We have to stop teams from getting offensive rebounds and easy second-chance points.”

The Bulls, who beat the Hornets by 13 and 17 points in the two previous meetings, jumped out to a 48-33 lead this time.

It appeared Charlotte might make a game of it after hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts in the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but the Bulls extended their lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’ve struggled with Chicago all year,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Give them credit. For whatever reason, the matchup does not fit our group.”

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Balanced Cavaliers beat Bulls 103-94 without Sexton

Darius Garland had 22 points and nine assists, Jarrett Allen added 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers used a balanced attack to beat the Chicago Bulls 103-94 on Wednesday night without leading scorer Collin Sexton.

Larry Nance, Jr. had 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as Cleveland limited Chicago’s top scorers Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the second half. Isaac Okoro ended with 12 points for Cleveland, which won for just the fourth time in its last 10.

LaVine led Chicago with 22 points, getting 18 by the half on 6-for-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers. But the All-Star didn’t connect again until late and was held to two baskets on 12 shots in the second half.

Markkanen had 13 points in the first half before cooling off and ending with 17. Garland had 14 points in the second half to help Cleveland nudge ahead to a six-point lead after three quarters before the Cavs put it away in the fourth.

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Coby White and Tomas Satoransky each had 11 points for Chicago, which has lost four of five.

Sexton sat out after he experienced right hamstring soreness in the morning shootaround. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff stated the injury to the guard averaging 24 points wasn’t serious.

The Bulls led 55-53 after a tight first half, during which each team hit 22 shots from the floor. But Chicago was more efficient, shooting at 53.7% opposed to Cleveland’s 43.1%.

Both teams hit cold shooting stretches early and the Bulls committed six turnovers in the first quarter. That helped Cleveland open an eight-point lead with 4:32 left in the quarter, the biggest for either team in the half.

The Bulls pulled into a 25-all tie at the end of the quarter as LaVine lofted in a 3 as time ran out.

The Cavaliers opened a 78-72 lead after three quarters as the Bulls cooled off, shooting just 6 for 20 from the floor. LaVine went 0 for 5.

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Bulls tab Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas to lead basketball ops

The Chicago Bulls are hiring Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to become the franchise’s new executive vice president of basketball operations, league sources told ESPN.

The sides were completing contractual details on a multi-year deal late on Wednesday night, after offering the job to Karnisovas shortly after completing a second-round of interviews, sources said.

Karnisovas, 48, will replace John Paxson, who has been running the Bulls basketball operations since 2003. He will be tasked with hiring a new general manager and reshaping the totality of an organization that’s fallen out of the playoffs for the past two campaigns.

The Bulls were taken with Karnisovas’ history for talent evaluation and strong endorsements from Nuggets Governor Josh Kroenke and President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly about his leadership, organization and ability to structure operations, sources said.

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Karnisovas had a lengthy virtual interview with Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf – who’s leading the search — on Tuesday, sources said.

On Wednesday, Michael Reinsdorf introduced Karnisovas to his father, Jerry, for additional discussions and got the blessing to offer Karnisovas the job.

Reinsdorf completed an initial round of virtual meetings on Wednesday after an interview with former Atlanta Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, sources said.

Karnisovas’ diverse background in the game had caught the Bulls attention from the beginning of this process, including his role in building the Denver Nuggets into a contender with President Tim Connelly and Governor Josh Kroenke. The Nuggets draft success has included All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris and former center Jusuf Nurkic.

Karnisovas had stops with the Houston Rockets front office and league office and a decorated EuroLeague and Olympic-medal winning playing career. Karnisovas, a native of Lithuania, left home as a teenager to play college basketball at Seton Hall.

Karnisovas will be asked to reshape the Bulls front office, including hiring a new general manager and additional basketball operations and scouting positions, sources said.

Paxson is expected to move into an advisory role and there will be discussions with GM Gar Forman about his future with the organization too, sources said.

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Bulls´ Daniel Gafford to miss 2-4 weeks with dislocated thumb

Two minutes into Wednesday night’s home match versus the Washington Wizards, rookie center Daniel Gafford ran off the court gripping his right thumb.

Based on the broadcast’s feed, it’s hard to tell exactly what happened, but according to NBC Sports Chicago’s Tony Gill, those on the floor could see that Gafford’s thumb “went backward.”

Shortly after he left the game, the Bulls informed he would not return and simply reported a “right thumb injury.” However, The Athletic’s Sham Charania swooped in a couple of minutes later and announced Gafford would miss 2-4 weeks with a dislocated right thumb.

With the Bulls already down Wendell Carter Jr. until at least mid-February, they were relying heavily on Gafford to handle the team’s rim-protecting duties.

But now, the team will be down to just Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio as the only two centers on the roster. Of course, as a seven-footer, Lauri Markkanen can be shifted over to play underneath the basket as well, though it’s never been his strong suit.

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Gafford was picked by Chicago in the second round of last year’s draft.

He was averaging 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds coming into the game.

Carter again is out, this time with a severely sprained right ankle that will sideline him for four to six weeks. With both Carter and Gafford out, coach Jim Boylen used Luke Kornet initially. He also featured some lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center.

“It’s real disappointing,” Gafford said, who had been starting for Carter. “As much as I want to be out there, I’m going to have to take this time to recover and make sure I can go back out there and do the things that I’ve always been able to do. It’s taken a toll on me right now.”

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