By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Bulls lost its home opener to the San Antonio Spurs, 87-77 and it wasn’t a blow-out.
Chicago, playing without Niko Mirotic, facial fractures, and Bobby Portis, (suspension) gave it everything they could, but they couldn’t hold off LaMarcus Aldridge of the Spurs who scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Spurs had too much depth, having Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills come off the bench. Forward Rudy Gay also came off the bench to score 12 points.
Chicago shot just 38% from the floor and came close to matching the Spurs’ effort, who made 41% of its shots. Lauri Markkanen, the rookie Forward, had the assignment of guarding Aldridge. Markkanen scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his first home game.
The Bulls missed both Mirotic and Ports who got into a fight in practice which saw Portis land a punch to Mirotic’s face resulting in a concussion and two facial fractures that will sideline Mirotic for possibly 4 to 6 weeks. Portis was suspended eight games and has six more left on his suspension. Portis apologized to Mirotic and said he was sorry and that he let his teammates and the Bulls organization down.
“This is not who Bobby Portis is,” he said in a statement before the game.
Chicago gave the effort and only trailed 41-38 at half-time. The Spurs went on a run in the third quarter and the Bulls played catch-up the rest of the game.
All-Star Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs did not play due to a quad issue.
Robin Lopez led the Bulls with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Justin Holiday scored 15, hitting only 5 of 18 shots. Paul Zipser had just three points in the game.
The Bulls forward vacancy opened up a spot for Markkanen to see much more minutes and he was pressed into the starting rotation. Guard Kris Dunn is also injured and Zach LaVine is still recovering from an ACL injury and is not slated to return to play until December.
Chicago is now 0-2 to start the season.