Watch Lauri Markkanen’s game winner, Bulls beat Thunder 114-112

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Lauri Markkanen is back.

Friday night Markkanen scored 24 points — for the second straight game — and hit four 3-pointers, bringing some spacing to the Bulls offense.

Then, when the game was tied (following a Russell Westbrook driving layup), it was Markkanen who took charge, put a spin move on an outstanding defender in Paul George, and hit a contested runner for the game-winner.

The Thunder have the best defense in the NBA, but the Bucks were giving them problems and it all started with the Zach LaVine/Markkanen pick-and-pop where the big has to come out and honor Markkanen’s ability to knock down the three, opening up driving lanes for LaVine. Since the Finnish star returned to the Bulls this week, their offensive spacing has looked much better.

(As an aside, this is why the Bulls made the coaching change when they did, firing Fred Hoiberg and giving the big chair to Jim Boylen — let the new coach hit the ground running with the team’s best big man returning.)

The Bulls will soon also get Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis back from injury. That’s not going to make them a threat to the Raptors, but it’s going to make them much better and a much tougher out every night.

They already are, just asked the Thunder.

Adrian Wojnarowski: Knicks firing David Fizdale ‘inevitable’

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Knicks president Steve Mills is reportedly laying the groundwork to fire coach David Fizdale.

One step: Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressing the media after Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers while Fizdale was still in the locker room. Mills and Perry stressed that the team wasn’t meeting expectations, seemingly a veiled shot at the coach.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

The dismissal of David Fizdale is inevitable, and there was, I think, a bond broken between management and their head coach with how they handled things after that loss Sunday night.

Coaches are hired to be fired, but this sounds far more urgent than that.

As long as Fizdale has his job, he has a chance to save it. If the Knicks start playing better, they could keep him.

But that seems unlikely with this underwhelming roster.

Which is why New York is reportedly also considering a front-office change.

Austin Rivers calls for Doc Rivers to get technical foul (video)

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When Doc Rivers coached Austin Rivers on the Clippers, accusations of favoritism ran rampant. Playing with the Rockets against the Clippers tonight, Austin showed where his loyalties lie.

Not with his father.

The Clippers were letting the game (an eventual 102-93 Houston win) get away from them when Doc argued a call. Austin stood nearby and urged the referee to call a technical foul. The official eventually obliged and ejected Doc.

That’s when Austin really hammed it up – waving off Doc then making the call-me gesture. The disrespect!

Ja Morant hits game-winner in Grizzlies-Hornets (video)

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Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant has had a game-saving block and game-winning assist.

Now, he has the glory of a game-winning shot.

Morant sealed the Memphis’ 119-117 win over the Hornets with a driving scoop in the final second tonight. He led Memphis with 23 points and 11 assists.

P.J. Tucker misses open fastbreak layup, trips on stanchion (video)

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I want to give P.J. Tucker a break. He’s the Rockets’ most (only?) reliable defender. He has such a heavy burden covering for James Harden, Russell Westbrook and just generally undersized lineups.

But this missed layup was so bad. And that stumble over the stanchion really seals the goof.