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Bobby Portis’s career-high last night shows his progression into a solid player

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38 points against Philly

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis is a liar. He said he was going to drop 40 points against the Philadelphia 76ers last night.

But he miscalculated. Portis merely finished with a career-high 38 points on 15-for-26 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point land (also a career high), and eight rebounds as he nearly willed the Bulls to a victory against the 76ers last night.

Portis flexed, screamed, and scowled his way to his best game of his career in what has been a quietly solid season for the 6-foot-11-inch forward from Arkansas.

“I’m an emotional player,” Portis noted. “I flex a lot, try to get the crowd in with the antics; something I’ve been doing all my life, trying to get the crowd involved. I feel like with the second unit it is my unit to try to help the team score. I like that role. Just me believing in myself. I’ve always been a guy not highly talked about; always had people doubting me. But I believe in myself and my abilities.”

-Per Bulls.com writer Sam Smith

This season, he’s shooting 34.7 percent from 3-point land, and has improved each season in this category. Last night, he was virtually unstoppable in the pick-and-roll, because he could either fade out to the 3-point line for a pick-and-pop 3-point field goal or roll with the ball handler and finish in traffic. He converted many high percentage looks last night just like he has done all season (his true shooting percentage this season is 55.7 percent which is a career high).

Early in the game, he also put the ball on the floor and utilized a fake handoff to blow past Amir Johnson and finish at the rim.

Also, one of the more impressive aspects of Portis’ game is how tenacious he is rebounding the ball. He isn’t that athletic and doesn’t jump very high, yet he is first on the Bulls in rebounds per 36 minutes (Noah Vonleh technically is higher but he’s played just two games with the Bulls).

Portis has been a punchline since he delivered the infamous punch that knocked out former teammate Nikola Mirotic. When the team announced at the end of October that they had picked up his option for next season, most greeted the move with indifference or even anger from those upset with his role in the fight with Mirotic.

However, Portis has averaged 13 points and 6.4 rebounds in an important bench role this season. He plays hard, infuses some energy into the second unit, and has become a fairly reliable, multi-dimensional scorer by expanding his game out to the 3-point line this season.

Portis has developed into a supplementary piece that the Bulls should probably think about keeping around for awhile.