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Bobby Portis continues his bum-slaying as Bulls show they’re not bad enough

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The big man had a double double coming off the bench against the Hawks

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls just can’t seem to tank correctly. Against a team with the 4th worst record in the NBA, the Bulls got completely smoked in the first quarter but ended up storming back, scoring 33 or more points in each of the remaining quarters, to win 129-122.

It was an evenly distributed offense, with 4 of the 5 starters scoring in double digits. They also had three players score double figures off the bench, led by Bobby Portis’s 21 points and 10 rebounds. Portis was efficient from the field (9 of 16) and made some clutch shots down the stretch for the Bulls.

(0:57 - 1:04) Here is a pick and roll play between Denzel Valentine and Portis, which frees up the big man for a clutch three-pointer. The play starts with Valentine up near the Hawks logo and being guarded by Tyler Dorsey. Soon after, Portis, who is guarded by Mike Muscala, comes up and looks to set a screen for Valentine. He initially comes up to Dorsey’s left but by the time he gets there, Valentine has already made his move going right. So instead of re-setting the pick to Dorsey’s right hand side, Portis decides to slip out adjacent to Valentine at the three-point line. While Portis is moving to what will be a three-point shot, Valentine makes move to his right and makes Dorsey commit. Then he crosses over the former Oregon point guard and swings the pass to Portis. Meanwhile, Muscala, who isn’t the most agile defender, hasn’t moved out to even near the three-point line and instead has stayed near the free throw line. Because of this, Muscala has a lot of ground to make up when Portis catches the ball. The big man does a good job of getting there as soon as Portis gets the ball but still doesn’t close the space all the way between them. This allows Portis enough time to rise up and knock down a three despite the contest from Muscala.

(1:17 - 1:23) At the start of this sequence, it looks like Portis is going to set a screen for Valentine in the corner. However it ends up being a decoy as Portis takes one step towards the corner then sprints over to near the top of the key. His man, this time being Dewayne Dedmon, is also sagging back into the paint to prevent Portis from crashing the glass or steamrolling to the hoop. So it’s a very easy catch for Portis when he receives the pass from Kris Dunn. Portis does a quick fake pass to Lauri Markkanen in the post, which freezes Dedmon momentarily from rushing out towards him. This gives Portis even more time and space to hit a clutch mid range jumper to help seal the game for Chicago.

Bobby Portis has had a whirlwind season. He’s been underrated considering his productivity amidst the fallout after punching Nikola Mirotic. In this final stretch of the year, we’ve seen Portis at his best and at his worst lately, doing a lot better against bad opponents.

This game against the Hawks (with most of the highlights above against a frontcourt duo of Mike Muscala and Miles Plumlee) was one of the good games from Portis. His energy was off the charts, he was fighting for rebounds, and stretching out the defense with his shooting.