Harrison becomes Chicago Bulls' accidental hero in win over Pistons
The Bulls had one of those bad news turns to good news moments Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, the team announced Otto Porter would be sidelined at least two more weeks with a left-foot sprain, while Chandler Hutchison is now out indefinitely with inflamed shins.
With no more healthy small forwards on the roster, Bulls coach Jim Boylen turned to 6-foot-3 guard Shaq Harrison, who hasn't seen the court much this season. Of course, Harrison played like a guy who couldn't wait to get out there and sparked the Bulls to an early 19-6 lead over the Detroit Pistons, which disappeared quickly when he was subbed out.
Eventually, the Bulls pulled away for an easy 109-89 victory at the United Center. Harrison finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and was a plus-29 in 26 minutes of action.
"I definitely had fresh legs," Harrison said. "I felt like a rabbit out there, just running around. It felt good to be out there."
First it was rookie center Daniel Gafford with a team-high 21 points against Milwaukee on Monday. Now Harrison was the star of the game in his first extended action of the season. Maybe Boylen needs to dust off Denzel Valentine for Friday's game against Miami.
In all seriousness, Harrison and Gafford are two of the more athletic guys on the team, and the Bulls just seemed too slow a lot of times early this season.
This game also proved that Zach LaVine shouldn't always try to do everything. He had an off shooting night, finished with 5 points and the game turned out fine. He'll have plenty of big scoring nights, but the Bulls could benefit from better balance sometimes, too.
Harrison got a decent amount of playing time last season. The scouting report would be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but his offense needed a ton of work. Against the Pistons, Harrison knocked down a 3-pointer in the first quarter and finished the night 7-for-12 from the field.
"I've been shooting that bad boy at practice and after practice, so I was ready to shoot one in a game," Harrison said. "I knew this day was going to come. I didn't know when, but I knew I had to stay in the gym."
Lauri Markkanen rose to the challenge of facing Detroit's big front line of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. Markkanen led the Bulls with 24 points and padded his scoring total in the second quarter with 6 points on a single possession.
Markkanen hit a 3-pointer while fouled by Drummond. Officials reviewed the play and called a flagrant foul. So Markkanen hit a free throw, the Bulls kept possession and added a running bank shot.
"I just tried to be aggressive, get to the rim," Markkanen said. "(Griffin) blocked my dunk attempt, but that's how you have to go to the rim. Just saw a couple go in right from the beginning. That's what it is, it's just me feeling good the whole time."
Tomas Satoransky had one of his better games, finishing with 15 points and 7 assists. Wendell Carter Jr. added 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Derrick Rose led the Pistons with 18 points. As is the custom now at the United Center, Rose entered the game to a standing ovation and heard "MVP" chants whenever he stood at the free-throw line.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls