Nikola Mirotic looking to take advantage of surprise start

There were many people who thought Nikola Mirotic wouldn’t be with the Bulls past the trade deadline. Few would have been surprised if he never started again for the Bulls.

As for that…

Mirotic will be in the Bulls’ starting lineup Saturday when they face the Utah Jazz. Mirotic will be making his third start of the season and first since Dec. 3 at Dallas. Since then, Mirotic has been the subject of trade rumors, questions about his future, and open wondering about why his game hasn’t progressed.

At least for one night, he can focus on playing.

Nikola Mirotic boxes out the Rockets' Trevor Ariza on a free throw in his first game back. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

“I was surprised that I’m back in the starting lineup,” Mirotic said. “It’s been a long time. The only thing in my mind is play strong today, play well. Especially try to win the game today.”

Fred Hoiberg said moving Mirotic back into the starting lineup was because he could matchup with Utah’s smaller lineup, and also to change the rhythm of the team.

“Getting Bobby (Portis) back to that bench role, hopefully coming out with great energy and giving us good minutes,” Hoiberg said.