The Chicago Bulls wasted a 50-point performance by Zach LaVine on Friday, and while fans were giving No. 8 his props, they were also blasting Lauri Markkanen for another subpar night in the team’s 120-108 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on the road.
Markkanen, who head coach Billy Donovan relegated to a bench role over the past two weeks, played 27 minutes but scored just 5 points with five rebounds, an assist, and two turnovers. Markkanen registered a minus-12 in plus/minus for the game, and there may not be a metric to measure how awful he was on the defensive end.
There are no stats required when looking at what fans had to say about Markkanen after the disappointing 120-108 loss.
Barstool Big Cat seems about ready to give back his membership card to the Markkanen fan club.
I want Lauri to be good but it’s just not happening https://t.co/KvqtjqbFST
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) April 10, 2021
It doesn’t sound like DaWindyCity Productions wants the Markkanen jersey he purchased during the 23-year-old’s rookie year.
I can’t believe I bought a Lauri jersey during his rookie year lol
— DaWindyCity Productions (new account) (@dwcburner) April 10, 2021
Arturas Karnisovas Fan Club likens Markkanen’s defensive ability to a crash-test dummy:
Who’s a more effective defender, a crash test dummy or Lauri Markkanen?
— Artūras Karnišovas Fan Club (@arturasfanclub) April 10, 2021
Let’s just say Rusty Buckets is someone else who isn’t a fan of Markkanen’s defensive effort:
Lauri is so dogshit at defense that it’s not even funny
— Jacob (AKA Rusty Buckets) (@RustyBUCKETS321) April 10, 2021
Despite Markkanen’s obvious struggles, Donovan inexplicably left him on the floor during the crucial fourth quarter when Chicago coughed up a game they led by 12 at the half, and by as much as seven in the final frame.
Billy Donovan Deserves Some Blame Too
Donovan’s rotations can leave you scratching your head at times, and Saturday night’s debacle was the latest example. The Bulls struggled defensively the entire night.
The Hawks scored a whopping 66 points in the paint and made the Bulls pay despite being held to just 26-percent shooting from three-point range.
Markkanen’s presence on the floor against a smaller, quick squad like the Hawks made no sense, and that was even more apparent when his three-point shots weren’t falling.
At one crucial point in the fourth quarter, Donovan sat LaVine for two minutes. During that stretch, the Hawks’ lead ballooned to five, and Chicago never recovered.
Chicago has blown multiple games this year, but because of how brilliant LaVine was–especially in the first half–this was one of the most painful losses of the season.
Let’s Give LaVine His Credit
The talk surrounding this game should be on the final result, which was a loss for the Bulls. However, LaVine’s 50-point performance, which included 39 in the first half and a remarkable 25 straight points in the second quarter, was a marvel to watch. Here’s a look at every basket he scored on Friday night.
Every bucket from Zach’s 50-piece.
18-31 FG | 7 threes | 8 rebounds | 5 assists pic.twitter.com/rAaAESXkAd
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 10, 2021
LaVine is an elite scorer who was deserving of his first All-Star performance. It’s nice to see him get love nationally after playing so well, but as he said during the post-game presser, per 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund, it would have been better with a win.
Zach LaVine on scoring a career-high 50 in #Bulls’ loss: “I’d much rather take the win right now.”
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) April 10, 2021
Nikola Vucevic who offered 25 points and 10 rebounds said this about LaVine’s performance after the game, per NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson:
I don’t think I’ve ever been part of something like that. It looks so easy. He wasn’t forcing it. It just came so naturally and so efficient. I wish we would’ve won to make it even more special for him. But it was pretty amazing to be part of that.
Unfortunately, Chicago didn’t get much else from anyone else on the offensive end, and that includes Markkanen, who has quickly become the object of Bulls fans’ rage on a regular basis.