Bulls rookie forward Lauri Markkanen doesn’t depend on three-point shots to make an impact in an NBA game. But they sure help.
Struggling from long distance recently after setting an NBA record for making 100 three-pointers in the fewest career games (41), Markkanen made his first three three-point shots in the first quarter and finished 5-for-8 from beyond the arc to finish with 23 points. Markkanen had been shooting 26.4 percent on three-point shots (19-for-72) since Feb. 1.
“Of course it helps when you make the first one,” Markkanen said. “But I always think [I’m going to make them] going in. Just trying to take my normal shots, and today they were falling a little bit better.”
Markkanen is feeling a little more urgency to get in a groove early in games.
“I don’t have as much playing time,” he said, referring to diminished minutes since returning from a back injury. “I’m just trying to make the right play.”
Bulls laud Thorn
Rod Thorn, the former Bulls general manager who drafted Michael Jordan, was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Final Four.
“The Chicago Bulls congratulate Rod Thorn on being named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018,” the team said in a statement. “From 1978 to 1985, Rod served as our general manager. While more than 30 years have passed since he last worked for our organization, his imprint on the Bulls remains to this day.”
Happy birthday, Robin?
Robin Lopez celebrated his 30th birthday with six points and four rebounds in less than 17 minutes.
“I think the win was an awesome birthday present,” Lopez said. “That was a fun game out there. It’s always good to be out with the guys.”
Lopez was unsure of how he would celebrate the rest of his birthday after the game.
“It’s early,” he said. “But it’s been interesting so far. We’ll see where the night takes me.”
Valentine’s Final Four day
Denzel Valentine said his trip to the Final Four to watch Loyola and his brother, Ramblers assistant coach Drew Valentine, was the first time he had watched a game as a fan.
Despite the former Michigan State star receiving a ton of abuse from Michigan fans and watching the Wolverines beat Loyola in the first semifinal, he enjoyed the Loyola experience.
“They have a good fan base,’’ Valentine said. ‘‘The players played hard. They didn’t quit. They brought the fight. They were [ahead]. I thought they were going to win. But obviously they didn’t. I enjoyed it, though.”
As for Monday’s championship game, Valentine’s prediction was predictable.
“Villanova’s gonna win,” he said.
Nwaba takes a fall
Guard David Nwaba took a nasty fall on his back after he was hit by Wizards center Marcin Gortat on a drive. But he avoided hitting his head on the court and said he was OK. After a timeout, he made two free throws.
“I landed on my elbow,’’ Nwaba said. ‘‘It stung at the time, but everything’s good now.’’