Hoiberg not ready to give up on Mirotic-Markkanen lineup
There's been speculation about the Bulls trading Nikola Mirotic when he's eligible to be moved on Monday, but coach Fred Hoiberg plans to continue experimenting with the "double stretch" lineup featuring a combination of Mirotic, Lauri Markkanen or Bobby Portis.
"With Lauri and Niko out there together, it's a really good lineup, but we have had some struggles on the (defensive) end," Hoiberg said before Saturday's game. "But it does put pressure on the other team on how they're going to finish.
"It may be taking a true big out of the game or they try to punish you on one end, where hopefully we can space it back on the other and make them guard the perimeter. It is a fun lineup."
The Detroit Pistons are a true opposite, with an interior-minded center in Andre Drummond. Coach Stan Van Gundy talked about trying to deal with outside-shooting bigs.
"It's tough. It's tough for us to guard guys like that," Van Gundy said. "What you hope is that you can take enough advantage of them on the boards with somebody like Andre to offset it."
Plans don't change:
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg suggested the team didn't have to change the game plan to fit Zach LaVine back into the lineup. LaVine, who joined the Bulls from Minnesota in a draft night trade last June, made his Chicago debut Saturday after recovering from ACL surgery in his left knee.
"We're going to run a lot of the same things that we did," Hoiberg said. "We put this system in place with Zach in mind. It happened to fit some of the other guys with our spacing fours. But to have wings that can get out and run in transition is a very big part of what we put in place."
Hoiberg also said he personally met with every player whose minutes would be affected by LaVine's return. Denzel Valentine surrendered his spot in the starting lineup when LaVine was cleared.
"The bottom line is we're getting a really talented player back that's going to help our team," Hoiberg said. "That's what each guy talked about when I met with them."
Minute man on call:
The Bulls' plan is to play Zach LaVine 20 minutes in each his first three games, then his playing time might increase. Coach Fred Hoiberg was asked Saturday who is in charge of keeping track of LaVine's minutes.
"(Trainer) Jeff Tanaka's that guy," Hoiberg said. "A lot of pressure on Jeff."
The Bulls had a chance to tie a franchise record Saturday with their seventh straight game of at least 10 made 3-pointers. They began Saturday's game by hitting 6 in a row. … The Pistons were without point guard Reggie Jackson (ankle), forward Jon Leuer (ankle) and forward Stanley Johnson (hip flexor)