It's almost like Lauri Markkanen has been doing this NBA thing for a while. In just his third game this season after sitting out the first 23, the second-year player nailed home a game-winning basket in Chicago on Friday night to lift the Bulls over the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112.
The former Arizona Wildcats standout had 24 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes during the Bulls' win.
“The Finnisher!”Lauri Markkanen. Game-winner. No doubt about it. pic.twitter.com/gEYJ70bvjb— Dominic Baciocco (@DominicBaciocco) December 8, 2018
The game-winner came after Russell Westbrook tied the contest at 112 with 19.2 seconds remaining in regulation. Markkanen inbounded on the ensuing possession and had the ball at the top of the key when he spun past Paul George and hit a power layup over the reach of Steven Adams with 4.9 seconds.
George's look for 3 from the top of the key at the buzzer bounced off the rim and Chicago avoided its eighth consecutive loss.
Markkanen missed nine weeks while he recovered from a right elbow strain he suffered during the first week of training camp. It's a small sample size, but he's averaging 17 points and 9.3 rebounds in his three games this season, in which Chicago is 1-2. The Finnish forward averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds as a rookie last year, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from long range, when he became the first Bulls rookie to score at least 1,000 points and have 500 rebounds.
Markkanen returned Dec. 1 to score 10 points and grab four rebounds against the Rockets. He logged his first double-double in Game 2, with 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Pacers on Tuesday.
Chicago moved to 6-20 on the year with the win Friday. The Bulls host the Boston Celtics at 6 p.m. Saturday.