Markkanen nets 30 as Bulls snap losing skid with win over Knicks

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Bulls finished strong this time and held on to beat the New York Knicks 110-102 on Monday at the United Center behind Lauri Markkanen's 30 points.

    The Bulls finished strong this time and held on to beat the New York Knicks 110-102 on Monday at the United Center behind Lauri Markkanen's 30 points. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 2/1/2021 10:49 PM

The Bulls might have sent security guards peering into the hallways of the United Center, just making sure Damian Lillard wasn't in the building.

Lillard was in Milwaukee with his Portland teammates. And faced with another close game Monday, the Bulls were able to finish off a 110-102 victory over New York, snapping a three-game losing streak.

 

The Bulls (8-11) were dealt a crushing loss on Saturday when a 5-point lead disappeared thanks to two Lillard 3-pointers in the final eight seconds. If it was any consolation, Brooklyn lost in very similar style Sunday at Washington.

Neither team had a huge lead in this game, but the Bulls were ahead for most of the fourth quarter and watched the Knicks get back in it with a couple of timely 3-pointers at the end.

"That's the great thing about the NBA, you've got the next game coming up," Lauri Markkanen said. "We learned from (the Portland loss), we did some execution stuff in practice, just going through what we could have done better, so that didn't creep up to our minds at all.

"We were focusing on getting stops and being strong with the ball and just executing down the stretch, I think we did a good job today."

Markkanen had his second-straight 30-point performance, even though he didn't find the net in the fourth quarter. He scored 31 in the loss to Portland.

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Zach LaVine was in some foul trouble, but finished with 23 points. Thad Young flirted with a triple-double for the third straight game, posting 13 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.

The Knicks took a 95-94 lead with 3:32 left on a 3-pointer by rookie guard Immanuel Quickly, then tied it at 100-100 on Alec Burks' 3-pointer with 55.8 seconds left.

Unlike Saturday's collapse, the Bulls turned in a strong finish. They clinched the game on the next three possessions -- a go-ahead corner 3 by White off a pass from Garrett Temple, a Markkanen steal against Julius Randle and a clinching 3 from LaVine.

After the game, Bulls coach Billy Donovan credit Markkanen's defense against Randle, even though the Knicks' power forward piled up 23 points and 11 rebounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I thought I played (Markkanen) a little bit too long in the third quarter," Donovan said. "He was phenomenal defensively tonight. Julius Randle's a really difficult player to guard. I'm not saying he just shut him down and stopped him. But he really did a good job of just battling and holding position.

it's good to see him continue to evolve and get better. He's doing a lot of multi-things in the game. He defended real well, he was physical at the basket defensively, he made some 3s, he drove the ball, he's getting guys shots, he's extra passing it. Just him staying aggressive I think is really important for our team."

Heading into this game, the Knicks (9-13) led the NBA in points allowed (103.9), defensive field-goal percentage (. 431) and opponent 3-point percentage (. 320).

The Bulls gashed the New York defense for 32 points on 58 percent shooting in the first quarter, but they could never pull away/

LaVine had another when he was patient offensively, then scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.

"I give him a lot of credit because he really kept his composure, he really kept his patience," Donovan said. "He is as good of a scorer as there is in this league and they came after him and really tried to send two people at him and I think Zach has said this, he's not a guy who's just wrapped up in getting his points. He wants to win and he wants to make the right play."

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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