The Bulls came into tonight 6-4 following a two game win streak against the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards. Over the last three games, Jimmy Butler averaged 32 points, capped with a near triple double against the Wizards on Saturday, but tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers he would be without a lot of help. Rajon Rondo was sidelined with an ankle injury, Doug McDermott, who experienced a concussion against the Wiz, and Michael Carter-Williams, who suffered a bruised knee and sprained wrist after a hard fall in Brooklyn. The Trail Blazers needed a halftime pep talk in an embarrassing first half showing against the Denver Nuggets in order to get the win and were looking to come out with a chip on their shoulder. Or so the narrative was supposed to read.
- The Bulls ran out to a quick 10-0 lead with the revised starting five that included Jerian Grant. They stuck with this squad nearly the entire first quarter, boasting a 35-14 lead to close the quarter. They came to play, never looked back, and went wire to wire.
- That first quarter buffer proved to be all they would need, as Portland turnovers, poor shot selection, and the inability to secure a rebound (the Bulls outrebounded Portland 67-49) put the nail in the coffin. The Bulls led by 25 on several occasions, and by as much as 26 late in the game, with a final score of 113 to 88.
- With Rondo out, Jerian Grant was in. And boy, was he in. His number was called and he rose to the occasion, putting forth an outstanding game. He brought energy, heart, and looked to not only fit in, but be a leader on the floor. He finished with an impressive line: over 30 minutes, he scored 18 points on 6-13 shooting with five steals.
- Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Robin Lopez all had solid games, looking sharp. Butler scored 19 points in the first half along with six rebounds; for the game, 27 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes. Wade had 19 points, five assists, and five rebounds. Lopez produced 13 points and 11 rebounds. A well-balanced attack.
- After Mirotic’s stellar performance on Saturday in which he scored 17 points on 6-7 from the field and 3-4 from deep, he looked uncertain in his first appearance tonight, playing under 10 minutes in the first half, but caught a groove in the 4th quarter and settled in, finishing with eight points on 3-6 shooting, 2-5 beyond the arc.
- Taj Gibson continues to impress, being a strong presence down low. He put up 12 points and 11 rebounds in a nice effort.
- The starting five all had at least +19 in the +/- category, and at least 29 minutes of gameplay each.
- The Blazers just looked flat nearly the whole game. There was a small window midway through the third quarter where they showed some life, but offensive rebounding by the Bulls kept them at bay. CJ McCollum was their only sign of life. The Patriot League alumnus scored 17 points on 7-17 shooting. Damian Lillard posted 19 points, but was just 7-22 in 38 minutes.
- Up Next: On Thursday, the Bulls travel to Utah to take on the Jazz, while Portland flies to Houston to face the Rockets.