Once considered future franchise cornerstones, Lauri Markkanen and Coby White have had complicated tenures with the Chicago Bulls. That continued when they both saw their roles most negatively affected by the trade deadline.
They have been pushed to the bench after beginning the season as the two most prominent scoring options behind Zach LaVine, and earlier this week coach Billy Donovan acknowledged “they’re probably not going to be featured guys” going forward. But judging by their performance in Thursday’s 122-113 victory over the Toronto Raptors, Markkanen and White might become the leaders of a reformed bench unit.
Markkanen (18 points, four rebounds) and White (15 points, three rebounds) combined for 33 points on 20 field goals off the bench, and along with a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double from Daniel Theis, the Bulls bench dominated a shorthanded Raptors bench unit and outscored them 47-20.
“I give (White and Markkanen) credit, they’ve been really good team guys,” Donovan said earlier this week. “They’re trying to do everything we’re asking them to do to put ourselves in position to win. Those two guys are important pieces for our team.”
The bench provided the perfect compliment for another strong night from LaVine, who scored 22 points and dished out a season-high 13 assists, and Nikola Vucevic, who added 22 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulls took advantage of the Raptors — who were limited to just eight available players thanks to a combination of injuries and suspensions — to win their third straight and add an extra game between themselves and Toronto, the team directly behind them in the standings.
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