The raging Bulls Friday played one of their most complete offensive games of the season in a 119-107 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The victory was the Bulls 10th in the last 12 games. They are 13-22. The Pacers dropped to 19-17.
The Bulls pushed the pace repeatedly on Indiana in a high octane game in which the Bulls led by double digits most of the game. The Bulls got a standing ovation from the appreciative United Center audience as the game concluded.
The Bulls were led by Lauri Markkanen with a career high 32 points and five of nine threes. Nikola Mirotic had 28 points and made eight of 16 threes. The Bulls tied a team record with 18 three pointers. They were 18 of 39.
Jerian Grant started for the ailing Kris Dunn and had 11 points and a career best 12 assists. Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez had 12 points and Justin Holiday added 11. The Bulls shot 50.6 percent overall and had a 49-31 edge in bench points.
Dunn went out with patella tendinitis in his left knee just before the start of the game. That matched, to some extent, the Pacers missing injured scoring leader Victor Oladipo with a knee issue. Grant took advantage of his opportunity with six points and five assists in a fast paced 37-27 Bulls start. The Bulls got 10 first quarter points from Robin Lopez with a series of drop step moves against the smaller Pacers. Then it was a Mirotic close with three consecutive three pointers in the last 1:41 of the quarter in which the Bulls had 11 assists on 14 field goals and shot 58 percent. The Bulls spurted ahead 42-27 early in the second quarter on yet another Mirotic three as he made five in the first half. The Pacers continued to keep up the fast paced game behind Darren Collison’s 15 first half points. Mirotic had 17 in the half. Portis followed a David Nwaba three with a full court drive and score to put the Bulls ahead 50-34. They maintained the lead at 64-46 until the Pacers scored the last six points of the second quarter. The Bulls led 64-52 at halftime, making 10 of 21 threes with 17 assists.
The Pacers continued to rally back despite the Bulls early sharp shooting. Markkanen came up with a spectacular follow dunk on an offensive rebound for a 68-57 lead and then drove and put in a left handed bank for a three-point play. But the Pacers kept coming and heading into the fourth quarter the Bulls led 86-77. Indiana opened the fourth quarter with a slam dunk warning. But then came Mirotic to respond with back to back threes, then handing off to Portis for a pair of free throws and a jumper for a 98-80 Bulls lead with 9:19 remaining in the game. The Bulls became a bit too enamored with the three as Indiana made a run to get within 106-95 with just under five minutes left. But then the Bulls responded with Markkanen finding Mirotic deep for a score and Markkanen with a pair of free throws and an inside move for a 110-95 lead with 3:49 left.