After a tough defeat against the Washington Wizards on Friday night, the Chicago Bulls bounced back with a 95-86 victory over a very good Western Conference team in the Utah Jazz. They had a rough first quarter offensively and it was expected given that Utah was the best team defensively in the NBA (1st in points allowed). But the Bulls picked things up in the second half, cultivating in a 34-point 4th quarter. Although Jimmy Butler led Chicago with 23 points, it was the duo of Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine which stole the show for Chicago. Both of the youngsters had amazing games with Portis scoring a career-high 23 points and Valentine grabbing a double double with both 11 points and rebounds. Behind the efforts of those two, Chicago grabbed 44 points from their bench and offered a small glimpse into what an ideal closing lineup would look like for Chicago to be successful.
It was an extremely efficient night for Bobby Portis. Especially considering he had an absolutely dreadful night against the Wizards and lost his starting job to Nikola Mirotic. But in this game he was very effective offensively, hitting 10 of 13 from the field including one three-pointer. He was able to get inside the paint, finishing over defenders to contribute to Chicago’s 38 points in the paint.
Portis has been great on offense tonight. Check out the Bulls' bench too, they're hyped. pic.twitter.com/i4Cwl4lE9a— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 19, 2017
Portis shows some great patience with this post move and uses it to get his defender off balance. This wasn’t a typical Portis basket considering how fast he plays the game and seems to go too fast at times. But this post-up is different. Right after he takes two dribbles and spins to his right, Portis uses a solid pump fake along with great foot work to get his man Jeff Whitey to bite. With Whitey already in the air, Portis uses the separation to shoot a floater that drops into the basket.
Valentine was effective from the three-point line in this game, hitting 3 shots from deep. Including this one in transition to start the 4th:
The young group gets the steal and drains a huge 4th quarter triple: pic.twitter.com/KCwWQE8Iq4— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 19, 2017
Here after a Utah turnover, MCW is pushing the ball up court with Chicago having a 5-4 advantage on their end of the floor. Valentine in that play does a good job of finding an open space near the three-point and spots up. Earlier in the game he was passing up three-point opportunities and wasn’t looking all that confident. But that wasn’t the case this time around and with nobody even close to him to contest, he rose up and knocked it down.
Games like these from the Bulls are very confusing because these occurrences don’t happen every night and do once in a blue moon. It’s very unlikely we will see Portis score like this again but there is hope for Valentine. He has become more of a three-point threat as the season has worn on and has shown he’s not afraid to shoot it. It’s a consistency thing with Valentine, he can continue knocking it down he could be in line for more minutes and deservedly so. Especially with his versatility and ability to handle the ball. This was a good showcase for the younger Bulls but we need to see more of this before it is time to start feeling confident about them. Like way more of this.
Bulls lose battle on the boards
This was an atypical night for the Bulls on the glass. They were beaten by double digits, 49-39, by Utah and only Valentine had more than 6 rebounds. It also didn't help for the Bulls on the glass that Cristiano Felico wasn’t playing much with Fred Hoiberg choosing to play Joffrey Lauvergne over him in the rotation in the 4th quarter. It wasn’t good to see Chicago dominated like that on the glass but given they won, you can write this one off.
Prayers for the inflatable Benny the Bull
The famous Benny the Bull balloon that flies over the UC crowd had to make an emergency landing.
But luckily it got back to working and everything was back to normal.
Also, once again: Free Jerian Grant