The Bulls started their road trip as good as you could ever imagine, and carried that huge lead to a 113-88 victory over the TrailBlazers in Portland.
Jerian Grant received the start in place of the injured Rajon Rondo, and the Bulls had a fantastic opening quarter: a 21-point lead at 35-14. The Blazers were held to 5/24 shooting, with Damian Lillard going 0/7 being matched up by Grant.
Jimmy Butler led in the quarter with 13, Robin Lopez had a paint-dominating 9 points and 7 rebounds, but Grant himself had a surprisingly great stint.
Grant also contributed in his opening quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the key, and had this nice steal and finish.
The Bulls maintained a healthy lead throughout the first half, more than weathering a disastrous Bobby Portis stint. It helped that Jimmy Butler kept cooking, for this stretch with Evan Turner as the victim. The Blazers just do not have many options defensively on the wing to handle someone of Jimmy’s caliber, a guy who’s been playing as well as anybody in the league.
Jimmy Butler in his past 4 games:— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) November 16, 2016
40-44 FTs (90.9%)
By halftime, both teams had hit 2 three pointers. But while the Bulls were 2/5, the Blazers were 2/17, and getting pounded in all other facets of the game too.
The 3rd quarter was fairly even, with Butler adding to his total and Grant finishing the period with a flourish, hitting a 3 in front of the Blazers bench then getting another steal+finish. It was his 5th steal and 16th point of the game. Grant finished with 18 points and Butler led all scorers with 27 points along with 12 rebounds and 5 assists, including this lob to Wade.
Dwyane Wade rises for the ALLEY-OOP SLAM! https://t.co/bWkeWrSSAh— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 16, 2016
Every Bulls starter finished in double figures in their roughly 30 minutes apiece.
Until the middle of the 3rd quarter the Bulls bench really hadn’t done much (and obviously didn’t really need to, the starters were that dominant), but early 4th quarter threes from Nikola Mirotic and Isiah Canaan pushed the Bulls lead back even past its largest margin. I think even at the worst for the Bulls in this game it only got as close to, like, a 16 point lead.
The Blazers were 7-4 coming into this matchup, but had showed some cracks. They had a negative overall point differential, and had real defensive problems that the Bulls were especially-fitted to exploit.
That said, the Blazers are expected to be a playoff team in the West, and a really tough opener to this 6-game road trip. That the Bulls were able, in a game where they were forced to start their 3rd string point guard, to surge immediately and completely throttle this Portland team is a fantastic way to kick off this stretch away from the United Center.