Euro Power: Mirotic and Markkanen power the Chicago Bulls to victory

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 29: Domantas Sabonis
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 29: Domantas Sabonis /

Nikola Mirotic and Lauri Markkanen combined for 60 points in Friday night’s win over the Indiana Pacers. The Chicago Bulls have now won 10 of their last 12.

Kris Dunn was a late scratch for the Chicago Bulls due to left patella tendinitis. Hope that’s nothing serious, Dunn has been one of the most enjoyable players to watch at this point in the season and not having him start noticeably throws the rotations out of wack.

The Indiana Pacers were without the services of Victor Oladipo on Friday night, making another win for the allegedly tanking Bulls much more likely.

And while the weather in Chicago is blistering and frustrating (more on that later), Chicago’s play has been anything but.

First Quarter

The Bulls fed Robin Lopez the ball from the instant the first quarter started, much to the delight of Stacy King. Seriously, if Chicago strictly threw it to RoLo in the low post the entire game, Stacy would be convinced they were the best offense in the NBA.

But, as he does, RoLo converted on his hook shots and funky looking layups. Lopez had six points in the first five and a half minutes and ended the quarter with 10. He ate up Myles Turner down low and set the tone.

Now, that weather I referenced earlier. I live about an hour south of Chicago and with a little over five and a half minutes left in the quarter, my cable and internet went out. It didn’t come back on until the start of the second quarter, so I missed the beginning of Nikola Mirotic‘s 3-point shooting display.

However I did get to see Denzel Valentine‘s casual stroll down the court for a layup. I was so positive Turner was going to glass this to half-court I already had my head in my hands.

End 1Q: Chicago 37 – Indiana 27

Second Quarter

After splashing three 3s at the end of the first, Niko started the second quarter in the post with a beautiful spin toward the baseline for a layup. He’d hit two more 3s in the quarter before relinquishing the European player splashing treys for Chicago title to Lauri Markkanen.

Markkanen hit two 3s in the quarter, helping stretch the lead to 12 going into halftime.

But the best of play of the quarter belonged to Bobby Portis. Portis pulled off a great nononononono-YES play, going coast-to-coast a la Russell Westbrook while keeping control of the ball and converting the layup.

End 2Q: Chicago 64 – Indiana 52

Third Quarter

Chicago struggled to score in the third quarter with the exception of Lauri Bird. Lauri scored 13 of the Bulls’ 22 points in the quarter and seemed to have an answer whenever Darren Collison and the Pacers threatened to close in.

There was Lauri showing off his sweet stroke:

Lauri rolled to the paint and finished the layup while drawing a foul on Cory Joseph and made the and-1.

He also made a casual 21 footer after picking up his dribble and looking for someone to pass to.

He hit another 3 and WAIT.


You can really just stop reading here and watch that on a loop the rest of the night. Here’s another angle.

End 3Q: Chicago 86 – Indiana 77

Fourth Quarter

Mirotic reclaimed the European man on fire crown from Markkanen in the fourth, making three 3s in the first three and a half minutes of the quarter.

Chicago’s passing during these wins has been truly phenomenal and Fred Hoiberg deserves a lot of credit. Tonight the Bulls finished with 31 assists.

To Indiana’s credit, they made runs whenever it looked like Chicago was on the cusp of blowing them out. This trend continued in the fourth quarter when the Bulls took an 18 point lead with 6:14 left in the game.

The Pacers closed it to an 11 point deficit, but the combination of Mirotic and Markkanen was just too much as Chicago walked away with another win.

Final: Chicago 119 – Indiana 107

Nikola Mirotic: 28 points, 10-20 FG, 8-16 3PT.

Lauri Markkanen: 32 points, 11-17 FG, 5-9 3PT