Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against Hornets

Mark Strotman
NBC Sports Chicago

Oh yeah, it's the Bulls and Hornets on Friday on NBC Sports Chicago! Coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

1. Bulls got their number? OK, not exactly. But still, the Hornets are the last team the Bulls defeated this season. That win on Nov. 17 is sandwiched in between five losses before and 10 losses after. So maybe this is a good matchup for the Bulls, who earned a 123-120 victory despite Kemba Walker's 47 points. The Bulls haven't won on the road since Nov. 3 in Orlando, but they're trending in the right direction after Wednesday night's impressive showing (for 46 minutes) in Indiana. More of that and the Bulls could be back in the win column.

2. Kris Dunn continues to show promise. Dunn didn't finish Wednesday's ugly loss in Indiana the way he wanted to, but let's be real about his play as a whole: he's been outstanding. In his last five games Dunn is averaging 16.4 points, 6.4 assists and 1.8 steals. Perhaps more importantly, he's averaged better than 30 minutes in those games. We all expected it, and now it's clear: Dunn is the point guard of the future in Chicago over Jerian Grant, and he's only getting better. Dunn won't look back from this race.

3. Nikola Mirotic returns. The Bulls' longest tenured player will be active for the first time on Friday, and it'll be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg deploys him. Lauri Markkanen has been excellent in his rookie season, and Bobby Portis has played well since returning from suspension (caused by punching Mirotic in the face). There's about to be a logjam at the 4, meaning Hoiberg may opt to go with smaller lineups to get all three stretch-forwards enough minutes. Either way, it's great to see a healthy Mirotic back in the rotation for the Bulls.

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