John Collins

Four observations: Bulls rout shorthanded Atlanta Hawks, pick up necessary win

Four observations: Bulls rout shorthanded Atlanta Hawks, pick up necessary win

The Bulls took care of business in a necessary 116-81 win over the lowly Atlanta Hawks. Here's some observations:

Bulls put pedal to the metal early and don’t let up

The first three possessions of this game — one ending in a forced, late shot-clock 3-point attempt, then two turnovers — were ominous. But after falling behind 4-0, the hosts mounted a 14-0 run over the next two-and-half minutes, culminating with a Hawks timeout just before the eight-minute mark of the period.

The Bulls ended the first with a 35-19 advantage, shooting 70% from the field (4-for-6 from three) and outrebounding the Hawks by a whopping 16-4 margin — perks of not missing many buckets.

They didn’t take their foot off the gas from there, never leading by less than 11 for the rest of the game. As a team, they finished the night 49.4% from the field (15-for-31 from three) and got out without much of a sweat.

Lauri Markkanen looked vintage

I’m not saying it was Flu Game Pt. 2 (in the wake of his stomach bug), but Lauri Markkanen balled out. He was aggressive moving on- and off-ball all night, pulling from long-range without hesitation and driving downhill with gumption.

 

Markkanen powered the Bulls’ first-quarter stampede, scoring 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the opening frame. Then, when the Hawks pulled to within 46-35 in the second, he stroked a 3-pointer that sparked and 18-8 run to end the half — the Bulls led 64-43 entering the third.

He finished with 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting (4-for-9 from three) in 21:43 minutes. Steady shooting improvement has defined his December (he’s up to 40.2% for the month, now), so this was a performance worth building on.

John Collins got his buckets

In just about the only smudge on this performance, John Collins (again) had a big night against the Bulls. He finished with a game-high 34 points, along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on 14-for-26 shooting.

The Hawks never got particularly close after the Bulls’ aforementioned first-quarter barrage, but in moments where they did flash signs of life, Collins was at the heart of it. In a third quarter that saw the Bulls’ offense stagnate a tad (but only lose three points off their lead), Collins had 14 points and 2 blocks.

All in all, it’s hard to ding the Bulls too much — they took care of business overall tonight (the Hawks managed only 81 points) and Collins is a rare talent.

Bulls check all the boxes — and freshen their legs (sort of)

The Bulls did everything they had to do to win tonight. They got out and ran, tallying 25 fastbreak points and 26 points off 21 Hawks turnovers. They won on the interior, outboarding Atlanta 51-39 by night’s end and outscoring them 48-40 in the paint. They shot well and didn't allow the Hawks to do the same. And everyone got involved. Some fun statlines:

  • Zach LaVine: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 7-for-15 shooting (3-for-7 from three), many good dunks

  • Tomas Satoransky: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists 5-for-8 from the field

  • Wendell Carter Jr.: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2-for-3 from three (the latter a development many Bulls fans have been clamoring for)

  • Coby White: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 8-for-11 shooting, 2-for-3 from three (ignore the 5 turnovers)

But even with a grueling month of January ahead, Boylen did stick with the starters until around the five-minute mark of the fourth, despite leading by 20+ for most of the period. But still, no Bulls starter other than Kris Dunn finished with more than 30 minutes played — marginally fresh legs will be necessary, moving forward.

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Bulls dealt a dose of good news with John Collins suspension

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USA TODAY

Bulls dealt a dose of good news with John Collins suspension

The 2-5 Bulls woke up to a dose of good news Tuesday morning. 

Following a date with Anthony Davis, LeBron James and the Lakers Tuesday night at the United Center, the Bulls will take on an Atlanta team that just lost one of its best players. 

Hawks forward John Collins was hit with a 25-game suspension Tuesday morning for violating the league's Anti-Drug Policy:

Collins is currently second on the Hawks with 17 points per game and leads the team in rebounds (8.8), blocks (2.0) and minutes (32.2) while starting all five games for the 2-3 squad. 

The Bulls, meanwhile, have dropped three of their last four contests entering play Tuesday night. They will also play the Hawks another time during Collins' 25-game hiatus — Dec. 11 at the UC.

The Collins suspension now means the Bulls will likely see old friend Jabari Parker starting at power forward Wednesday night.

For what it's worth, Collins said he plans to fight the suspension in a statement provided by the Hawks.

"I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement which, unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component," Collins said in the statement. "I plan to fight my suspension in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and continue to contribute to our 2019-20 campaign."

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NBA Draft: Top 5 options for Bulls at No. 16

NBA Draft: Top 5 options for Bulls at No. 16

With the 2017 NBA Draft looming on Thursday, CSN's Mark Strotman and Scott Phillips broke down some of the top players the Bulls could target at No. 16. 

John Collins, PF, Wake Forest

2016-2017 Stats: 19.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 62% FG

Strotman's take:  Super productive in the ACC. Could be adding more to his game. 

Phillips' take: Like his offensive talent. Where is he defensively, though? 

Jarett Allen, SF, Texas

2016-2017 stats: 12.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 56% FG

Strotman: Has to carve out a niche, like Rudy Gobert, to be a guy who stays productive in the NBA. 

Phillips: Big, physical guy who can develop into a shot-blocker. Could be a steal. 

Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

2016-2017 stats: 18.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 51% FG

Strotman: Good fit in Chicago because of his 3-point ability. 

Phillips: Improved his shooting and playmaking off the dribble. 

Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

2016-2017 stats: 19.5 points, 52% FG, 44% 3PT FG

Strotman: More to his game than just shooting. Not sure he'll be there at No. 16 because he upped his stock. 

Phillips: Tough dude. Advanced off ball screens and not afraid to take the big shot. 

Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide (Australia)

2016-2017 stats: 4.6 points, 1.2 rebounds, 44% FG

Strotman: Certainly fits the bill for younger and more athletic. Could learn a lot under Dwyane Wade.

Phillips: Type of guy who could win a 3-point or dunk contest.

Watch the video above for the full analysis.