The Chicago Bulls played hard, and fought back in the fourth quarter to almost catch Portland, but Damian Lillard’s outstanding 31 point effort was too much.
The Bulls lost 103-95 against the Western conference foe. Portland atoned for losing against Houston the night before and coughing up a big lead.
Chicago got a great game by Pau Gasol who had a triple-double in scoring 22 points, grabbing 16 boards, and making a career high 14 assists. E’Twaun Moore did his best Jimmy Butler impersonation and scored 17 points in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough. The Bulls also got a big game from Doug McDermott who is showing his offensive skills and his game has steadily improved. McDermott had 18 points. He made three free-throws to get the Bulls within 3 points at 86-83 with 7:15 remaining, but the Bulls could not get past the Trailblazers.
Portland then went on an 8-0 run to put them ahead, 94-83 but Bulls kept chipping away.
Mason Plumlee scored 16 with 9 rebounds and his block on Mike Dunleavy Jr late in the game was a key play. The Bulls trailed by six points, and Dunleavy’s basket would have put them right back in the game, but he was denied.
Gasol’s play had the Bulls close to Portland who have won 16 of its last 20 games.
“It’s up to us to continue to compete, continue to do the right things on the floor, play like every game is critically important, because it is, and they are,” said Gasol.
Chicago only shot 42% and usually that is not strong enough, even on the home court. Lillard’s fine game made the difference. He went 12-26 and had the answers most of the night. He spoke about his team bouncing back from a tough loss. “We had a meltdown,” he said. But Portland responded on the road.
The Bulls are missing Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Rose sat out another game with hamstring issues. Nikola Mirotic, a key reserve, is also out. The lack of firepower is hurting the Bulls. Coach Hoiberg admitted the injuries, have taken ‘ts toll.
“It’s tough,” said Hoiberg. “I’d be lying if I told you differently.”
The Bulls are fighting for a playoff berth. Coach Hoiberg pointed out that he thought the offense was moving better and when key contributors return to the lineup, the Bulls would be in a position to make a stretch run. Butler is expected back in less than two weeks. Rose is day-to-day. Before he went out, Rose was producing for the Bulls, and in his last game, scored 24 points.
But, Chicago needs it’s starting backcourt to return soon to make a bid for the playoffs.