Lauri Markkanen's red-hot February puts him on an historic pace


Lauri Markkanen will certainly be sad to see February go. The second year power forward finished the most productive month of his young NBA career with 22 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Markkanen finishes February, in 10 games, averaging 25.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 3-pointers in 36.3 minutes per game. He was dominant throughout the month, posting four 30-point games (he had two through his first 29 games this season) and had double-doubles in all but two games, and in those two he had nine rebounds in each.

It's putting him in some wild territory: Heading into March, Markkanen is now averaging 19.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.4 3-pointers in 39 games. Were he to bump his triples up slightly, he'd become the first player in NBA history to average 19-9-2.5. They're odd thresholds, but it's still impressive to consider that no one - not even stretch forwards like Dirk Nowtizki, Kevin Love or Chris Bosh - ever reached those numbers. And, of course, Markkanen would do it at 21 years old.

Here's a look back at Markkanen's ridiculous February by game:

Feb. 2 at Charlotte: 30 points, 9 rebounds, 1-5 3FG, 13-13 FT

Half of his points came in garbage time but Markkanen still set a career best by going 13 of 13 from the free throw line in a loss to the Hornets. Bobby Portis stole the show with 22 points in the second quarter alone but the final frame beloned to Markkanen, making all three field goal attempts and hitting seven free throw attempts.

Feb. 6 vs. New Orleans: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5-10 3FG

He'd accomplish the same feat two days later (and again later in the month), but this was still Markkanen's first 30 and 10 game of his career. Much of the performance went under the radar because fans and media alike were focused on the Bulls' trade for Otto Porter Jr. a few minutes before tipoff, but it still showed what Markkanen would be able to accomplish without two ball-stopping forwards around him.

Feb. 8 at Brooklyn: 31 points, 18 rebounds, 11-18 FG, 2 blocks

The Bulls simply took it to the Nets for all four quarters in Porter's debut, and it was Markkanen who closed it. He scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half and grabbed 11 of his 18 rebounds after halftime. Surprisingly enough he had two blocks in a 1-minute span in the first quarter, both on Shabazz Napier, and it marked the only two blocks of the month for him.

Feb. 9 vs. Washington: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 11-18 FG, 4-7 3FG

The story of the night was Bobby Portis (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Jabari Parker (20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) outperforming their old team in a return to Chicago, but Markkanen was solid once again, too. He struggled from beyond the arc, going just 1 for 6, but took advantage of that weak interior defense by making 8 of 11 2-pointers. He also handed out four assists, the first time he had done so in February.

Feb. 11 vs. Milwaukee: 20 points, 17 rebounds, 7-7 FT

Markkanen's ridiculous shooting (.567/.393/.923 in four games) was bound to slow down against the league's No. 1 defense, and it did. He went just 6 of 21 from the field but was able to go 7 of 7 from the free throw line and was a beast again on the boards, including four offensive rebounds.

Feb. 13 vs. Memphis: 21 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3-6 3FG, 6-6 FT

After making just 2 of 13 3-point attempts in the previous two games, Markkanen was back from beyond the arc against the Grizzlies, hitting 3 of 6 triples. The bigger story were the six assists he handed out. That marked a career-high, and three of them went to Otto Porter, who shot the lights out to the tune of 37 points.

Feb. 22 at Orlando: 25 points, 11 rebounds

Winning players step up, and that's what Markkanen did in the third quarter against the Magic. Trailing by two, Markkanen scored 12 of his 25 points to push the Bulls' lead to seven. He scored seven straight early in the period and then pushed the Bulls' lead out to eight with back-to-back 3-pointers later in the period. He was non-existent in the fourth quarter but did enough in the third that the Bulls were able to coast to a victory.

Feb. 23 vs. Boston: 35 points, 15 rebounds, 12-20 FG, 8-9 FT

What's better than one career night? Two career nights from the foundations of your franchise. Zach LaVine poured in 42 points of his own but Markkanen matched him shot for shot, putting together the 19th 35-point, 15-rebound performance of the year (17 of the first 18 were done by All-Stars). It was his best performance of a remarkable night, and he did so against the No. 4 defense in the NBA. 

Feb. 25 vs. Milwaukee: 26 points, 12 rebounds, 11-22 FG

The Bulls still weren't able to get by the Bucks - even without Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup - but Markkanen put together another big line. After struggling from the field earlier in the month he went 11 of 22 and his a pair of triples. Fourteen of his points came in a first quarter that the Bulls outscored Milwaukee, 38-25. The rest of the night was all Milwaukee but it was still impressive to see Markkanen dominating a game against the NBA's hottest and best team.

Feb. 27 at Memphis: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 7-16 FG

Markkanen couldn't get it going early - it was ugly for both teams much of the night - but heated up with back-to-back buckets in the fourth quarter. He wasn't able to keep his nine-game 20-point, nine-rebound, one 3-pointer streak alive (two away from an NBA record) but it was another effective performance and he was a monster around the rim. Late in the game he notched his 10th rebound - giving him a career-best four straight double-doubles - and closed out the game with a free throw.

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