NEW YORK (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 125-106 rout of the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
Markkanen scored at least 30 points in his third straight game, while Chicago scored more than 100 points for the 17th straight game.
Zach LaVine added 23 points, Otto Porter Jr. had 18 in his first game with the Bulls, Robin Lopez and Kris Dunn each had 12, and Wayne Selden Jr. finished with 11. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Bulls. Chicago has still lost three of five, seven of nine, and 16 of 19 dating to Dec. 30.
D’Angelo Russell, named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team earlier in the week, led the Nets with 23 points but Brooklyn dropped to 29-28 with its third loss in five games. Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris each finished with 19 points.
At first glance, the game seemed liked a mismatch. The Nets have been one of the NBA’s surprise stories as they find themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while the Bulls are in a heated race with Atlanta, Cleveland, Phoenix and the New York Knicks to be in the best position to win the NBA draft lottery and potentially select Duke power forward Zion Williamson.
But, the Bulls led 55-48 at halftime. Chicago’s biggest lead in the first half was 10 at 40-30, but the Nets used 17-6 run spanning 6:28 to go up by 1 at 47-46, before the Bulls ended the first half by outscoring Brooklyn 9-1. Chicago made 21 of 44 shots from the field in the first half, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range, while the Nets struggled at 16 for 43 overall, and 5 of 17 from beyond the arc.
Chicago extended its lead to as many as 14 in the third quarter, and had a 93-80 advantage going into the fourth. Among the keys to the Bulls strong third quarter was the play of their starting front court of Robin Lopez, Markkanen and Porter, who combined for 25 of the Bulls’ 38 third-quarter points.
The lead grew to 18 in the fourth after Timothe Luwauw-Cabarrot made two free throws with 8:09 left.
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