Lack of experience creates lineup questions for Bulls
For the past two games, Bulls coach Jim Boylen has used forward Thaddeus Young for the majority of the fourth quarter. When the Bulls beat Detroit 112-106 on Friday at the United Center, Young played the entire fourth.
The issue was discussed here earlier this week. The Bulls have a young lineup that needs to learn how to win. Young is the most experienced player on the roster. But if he plays in the fourth quarter, who sits?
The past two games, it was Lauri Markkanen, although there were extenuating circumstances Friday. Markkanen hobbled off the court with an injury to his left side with 9:30 remaining. Markkanen went to the locker room, returned to the bench and said he could have returned, but it was probably the right move not to take any chances.
The Bulls practiced Saturday at the Advocate Center before leaving for Indiana. Markkanen was a participant and is expected to play against the Pacers. Forward Chandler Hutchison (hamstring) made it through the full practice and could make his season debut Sunday.
Boylen was asked if the late-game lineup has become a dilemma on whether to play Young to get more experience on the floor.
"It's not a dilemma for me if you want to have a good team," Boylen said. "It's not a dilemma for me if our guys understand that that's how championship teams, playoff teams operate. You play your minutes and you play them for the team.
"Finishing the game is open to how the game is going and what the situation is. I think we've established that pretty well."
Finishing games was a huge problem for the Bulls in the first two weeks of the season. They lost a 10-point lead in the final six minutes at Charlotte and watched the Knicks finish a game with a 15-0 run. At Cleveland on Wednesday, the Bulls led by 4 early in the fourth and were within 2 in the final two minutes, but lost 117-111.
So Friday's win counted as a breakthrough. The Pistons rallied from a 16-point deficit to take a brief 1-point lead with 3:46 left. This time Zach LaVine knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive trips and the Bulls held on from there.
Boylen has varied the fourth quarter lineups during the first six games. At Charlotte, he sent Young in to replace Wendell Carter Jr. for a few minutes. In the win at Memphis, rookie Coby White played the entire fourth quarter, while Kris Dunn played more than nine minutes.
"We have established since day one with this group, that we're going to finish games with guys that we need to finish games with, whether you're a starter or a bench guy or whatever," Boylen said. "And you play those minutes. One night it will be your opportunity and maybe the next night it will be somebody else's opportunity."
Boylen disagreed with the notion that Markkanen should always play in the fourth quarter, since he's one of the primary rebuilding blocks and needs that experience for his personal development.
"That (sitting out) may be the development piece," Boylen said. "Maybe next time you play a little differently. Whoever it is -- it doesn't have to be Lauri. We are trying to develop and win. And it's very difficult, but that's what we're trying to do."
There's not enough evidence yet to determine whether having Young on the court late in games will help the Bulls win. It is safe to say their young players need help and the Bulls signed Young as a free agent from Indiana to provide guidance.
"I said I'd like to have a player-coached team, guys who take ownership of the team and the success or failure," Boylen said. "He (Young) does that. I also have to mention OP (Otto Porter). He gritted his teeth (Friday) and said, 'We ain't losing this game.'
"I'm thankful for both of them. It's what we need. And we've got to get more of it."
Bulls game dayBulls vs. Indiana Pacers, Sunday 4 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TV: NBCSCH; WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: C Myles Turner is out with an ankle sprain and SG Victor Oladipo is still recovering from last season's quad injury, but the Pacers (3-3) have won two in a row, beating the Nets and Cavs. ... Former Bucks PG Malcolm Brogdon is off to a good start with his new team, averaging 22.6 points and 10.2 assists. PF Domantas Sabonis is contributing 21.8 points and 11.4 rebounds, now that he's moved into the starting spot vacated by Thaddeus Young. Another newcomer is former Hornets SG Jeremy Lamb (18.7 ppg). Former Bulls SF Justin Holiday is getting minutes off the bench. ... The Bulls have lost six straight at Indiana.
Next: Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday 7 p.m. at the United Center
-- Mike McGraw