Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen sprains ankle but doesn't think he'll miss time

Lauri Markkanen sprains ankle but doesn't think he'll miss time

Lauri Markkanen suffered a sprained ankle in the closing seconds of the first half Saturday night against the Spurs and did not return.

Markkanen attempted to block a Rudy Gay layup and appeared to slip on the floor of the AT&T Center. He was seen trying to walk off the sprained ankle and was subbed out for the final 1.3 seconds.

The Bulls announced Markkanen's injury during halftime. He finished with six points, two rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes. It was the first time in his career he failed to score in double figures or make a 3-pointer.

The Bulls' rookie forward has dealt with two injuries in his early NBA career, including quad tendinitis earlier this week and back spasms during the preseason.

In 10 career games Markkanen has averaged 15.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and shot 36 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bulls are off until Wednesday when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.

UPDATE: After the game Markkanen said he's confident he'll be ready for that game Wednesday in OKC.

Some days the rebuild is going to look like it did in the Bulls' 39-point loss to the Spurs

Some days the rebuild is going to look like it did in the Bulls' 39-point loss to the Spurs

The Bulls have been competitve at times in this the first season of their post-Jimmy Butler rebuild.

They've taken the 7-6 New Orelans Pelicans to overtime. They were up one on the Cavaliers heading into the fourth quarter last month. Furious comebacks against the Spurs and Raptors came up just short.

Yes, the Bulls are 2-9 but have looked better than that at times.

Saturday night in San Antonio was not one of those times.

The Bulls allowed the Spurs to shoot 60 percent, make 18 3-pointers and assist on 33 baskets in their 133-94 loss. This was a Spurs team playing without the following players: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

Yes, Gregg Popovich is a wizard and could throw any five players in Spurs uniforms and win 50 games. But it was more so about the total lack of effort the Bulls showed.

They trailed 22-6 midway through the first quarter and then 37-15 after the full quarter. The Spurs had the Bulls doubled up in points 17 minutes into the game (50-25).

A solid Bulls comeback saw that lead trickle down to 10, at 55-45. But that was the end of the fun. The Spurs ended the quarter on a 7-2 run and finished the third quarter with a 27-point lead. Their reserves outscored the Bulls by 12 in the final quarter, and a meaningless Kris Dunn jumper from the right baseline was all that kept the Bulls from a 40-point L.

Some days the rebuild is going to look like this. The Bulls simply had no answer, and the Spurs offense was humming. It's too bad, too, considering the offense actually looked solid at times. The Bulls finished shooting 46 percent from the floor, Bobby Portis scored 17 points and Cris Felicio looked decent for the first time all year.

Then again, the Bulls also had some of the worst turnovers of the year, including Portis traveling right before he handed the ball off to the Spurs. So, at least it wasn't of the live-ball variety.

Some days it's simply not going to be enough. And it wasn't nearly enough against an angry Spurs team that had lost to the Bucks at home the night before. Toss this one away and get ready for the next opportunity to grow.

Lauri Markkanen sprains ankle, misses second half

Adding injury to insult, rookie Lauri Markkanen missed the entire second half after spraining his ankle in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

Markkanen slipped on the floor while defending a Rudy Gay layup attempt and was seen limping around after the play. He limped his way to the locker room and was ruled out shortly after halftime.

There's obviously no real reason to rush Markkanen back, as getting him healthy with no potential for re-injury should be the Bulls' top priority. His status for Wednesday is unknown, but it's nice that he'll have three rest days to get better. Slipping on the floor has resulted in nasty injuries over the years, so it looks like Markkanen dodged a bullet in some respect.

He finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds. It was the first time in his young NBA career he hadn't recorded double-digit points or a 3-pointer in a game.

Bobby Portis looks the part again

OK, so he was a -23 in 30 minutes. But then again, no Bulls player who finished the game was better than a -11, so we won't fault him there.

But if you want a positive from Saturday night's beatdown, Bobby Portis put together another nice performance.

He shot just 5-for-11 from the field, but that included a pair of 3-point makes and he also got to the free throw line five times (he made all five). Portis also grabbed six rebounds, and while he did have three turnovers it was another solid showing for him.

In three game Portis is now averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.8 minutes. The 30 minutes were a season-high, and a number he reached only five times last season. It's clear Fred Hoiberg is going to give Portis serious run this season, and if Markkanen needs to miss any time recovering from his sprained ankle Portis could be in line for some serious minutes and shot attempts.

No one played well for the read team tonight, but at least Portis showed some production in the raw numbers department.

No comeback this time but Bobby Portis strikes again in Bulls' loss to Pacers

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USA TODAY

No comeback this time but Bobby Portis strikes again in Bulls' loss to Pacers

The Return, Game 2: Bobby Portis said his suspension made him grateful to keep playing the game he loves.

He’s continuing to show it, playing with fervor in his first game in front of the Bulls fans since his incident with Nikola Mirotic. Scoring 20 points in 25 minutes with 11 rebounds, he continued to battle inside even as he wasn’t very effective early, working himself into a good night.

“I’m getting better each and every day,” Portis said. “I’ve always been confident but I’m at the top of my game right now with my confidence level. I’ve gotten better at taking the good shot and not every shot.”

The Bulls started to use he and Lauri Markkanen together again in the fourth quarter, similar to when they provided spacing in their comeback in Toronto. Markkanen shot just 2-for-9 from 3-point range, perhaps showing some effects from the tendinitis that kept him out of practice Wednesday.

With 43 points in his first two games, it’s the best two-game stretch of his career—all things considered. He had back-to-back 16-point games his rookie year against the Pacers and Knicks, but consistent playing time and production has been fleeting.

“Knowing I’m gonna play, I can get comfortable,” Portis said. “Knowing the coaches trust in my abilities, knowing they trust in me shooting the ball, that’s a plus also.”

He’s had to play behind proven veterans in Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol in his first two seasons.

“It’s always frustration, man,” he said with a laugh. “It’s always tough not being able to play and having to sit and wait your turn. It was a blessing in disguise, it’s helped me tremendously.”

Especially with Zach LaVine still weeks away from stepping on the floor and the Bulls being the only team in the Eastern Conference averaging fewer than 100 points (93.6), somebody has to score.

Why not Portis?

“I don’t know why anybody is surprised. I’ve always went hard my whole life,” Portis said. “I’ve always tried to bring my best effort. If anything, I’m gonna play hard. Me scoring 20 points is probably not gonna be a regular thing but at the same time I know my role on this team. Bring energy and effort every day. If the shots are there I’ll take them.”

No rah-rah comeback here: In Toronto, Hoiberg ripped into his team at halftime and it resulted in a resounding comeback, with the Bulls nearly pulling off an upset from down 23 points.

That kind of effort was nowhere to be found on Friday night, the first of a back-to-back set that concludes in San Antonio Saturday night.

“You could see in our guys’ faces, it was gonna be a long night,” Hoiberg said. “We didn’t have that fight to us, that suck it up, find a way to make a play for your teammates, we didn’t have it.”

Denzel Valentine started 1-for-10 after two encouraging performances. Kris Dunn’s maddening turnovers continued, especially the ones of the unforced variety where he’s either overthinking or not thinking at all.

He scored 16 and looked confident and competent while driving to the basket, evidenced by his baseline drive and dunk on an unsuspecting defense in the first half.

“He makes plays that gets you really excited, some high flying dunks, then he has a couple really careless turnovers,” Hoiberg said. “He’s shown flashes of being an excellent basketball player but we gotta get rid of those careless turnovers.”

But when it comes to running an offense, he’s still very much a work in progress—where patience is probably the best attribute when evaluating him.

It was also a game to forget for Bulls centers Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio. Felicio continued to struggle, as his usual activity has turned to regression. Lopez, on the other hand, had been a model of consistency until this point.

He’ll probably ask for a mulligan after start 0-for-6 and scoring just two points.

Oladip-OH!: Victor Oladipo was doing more than enjoying his newfound freedom after being traded from Oklahoma City to the Pacers in the Paul George deal; he was bathing in it. His steal and uncontested 360 dunk midway through the third quarter put the Pacers up 20 and gave him 21 points, on his way to 25, six assists and six rebounds.

It wasn’t that easy all night but it felt like that for the Pacers as they shot 51 percent and 41 from 3-point range. They didn’t make a free throw until well into the third quarter because the Bulls defense was that slow in getting back in transition.

“The very first drill we did in our training camp…defensive transition drill,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We talked about our rules in transition. It completely went out the window tonight.

“They scored 20 in transition. It seemed like 50.”

He lived in the Bulls paint, being a step quicker and playing with more fervor than anyone wearing Bulls red. It almost made you wonder why the Thunder couldn’t make it work between him and Russell Westbrook, given he was so active with the ball and refused to settle for jumpers.

It also put an end to the assertion that the Pacers got fleeced in the George deal, as they at least have building blocks in Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, who came off the bench to score eight with nine rebounds.

Bojan Bogdanovic torched the Bulls for six triples in 33 minutes, scoring 22 with seven rebounds. Oladipo’s penetration repeatedly compromised the Bulls defense and the threat of it left shooters open to the tune of 12 triples while the Bulls made just 7 of 26.