Bulls rookie Markkanen not worried about back issues

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen will not play against Memphis on Thursday due to back spasms.

    Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen will not play against Memphis on Thursday due to back spasms. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/14/2018 4:32 PM

Lauri Markkanen didn't travel with the Bulls to Memphis, so he'll miss his second straight game with back spasms. But the rookie forward doesn't think his condition is anything serious.

"I've been getting my treatments in. So I feel better," he said Wednesday. "I mean, I tried to warm up (Tuesday). It kind of started bothering me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Most of the time I feel good, but then sometimes it just hits like sharp. So I don't even know exactly what's the movement that bothers me more. Right now I feel pretty good."

Markkanen was a late scratch Tuesday against the Clippers. He has had several back issues before. He missed a stretch of games in December and during preseason. He was sidelined for a bit last summer while playing for the Finland national team.

"Yeah, definitely going to be a big summer to get my body right," he said. "I'm worried a lot about getting stronger."

Vonleh works on shot:

Noah Vonleh is expected to start his second straight game Thursday in place of Lauri Markkanen. Vonleh had been playing for Portland before being traded to the Bulls. The Los Angeles Clippers seemed to feel confident in leaving him wide open from 3-point range, and Vonleh went 0-for-5 from there Tuesday.

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"He's been working really hard at it, and he shot the ball, before last night, at a pretty effective clip," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "I did notice his body position on his first couple of shots was a little bit off. His last few shots were really good. Last night he played more minutes than he had all year, at least with us. I thought he got fatigued a little bit."

Vonleh has been streaky from long range. He hit his first 3 attempts after joining the Bulls, missed the next 9, then made 5 of 11 over three games before Tuesday. For his career, Vonleh is shooting 29.5 percent from 3-point range.

Vonleh's best skill is rebounding. Using his long arms, he has averaged a team-best 13 boards per 36 minutes since joining the Bulls. He's got a solid frame, but is not especially quick on his feet. The Bulls will continue to evaluate him over the last 15 games.

Long string of losses:

The Memphis Grizzlies will carry an 18-game losing streak into Thursday's game against the Bulls. The Grizzlies have a ways to go before reaching the NBA record of 28 straight losses, set by Philadelphia over two seasons in 2015.

This is not the longest losing streak the Bulls have faced. When the 76ers lost 26 in a row in 2013-14, the Bulls handed the Sixers losses No. 21 and 23.

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