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Chicago Bulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Preview, Injury Report, and Open Thread

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Was Saturday the turning point?

Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Chicago Bulls (6-11) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5-12)

7:00 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago

Injury Report:

No update on Chandler Hutchison as of this posting. For the Blazers, Hasaan Whiteside will play...that may help the Bulls.

Preview:

How much correlation is there between Zach LaVine’s cold-blooded 49-point outburst against the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night and the fact that it came on the heels of head coach Jim Boylen publicly calling him out to the media for poor play?

Did LaVine draw on the comments for motivation and his performance on Saturday was a giant middle finger to his head coach? Was it more benign than that and although LaVine was upset with Boylen’s comments after a self-evaluation (or after the two met) he realized he did need to play better and that was enough motivation to crank out a 49-point performance?

Are the 49-point game and the Boylen/LaVine drama two completely separate entities with no coorelation whatsoever?

Before the game on Saturday, Boylen and LaVine said all the right things about how their war of words was a misunderstanding and how they worked it out. And then the result of that game against Charlotte diverted the news cycle away from the Boylen and LaVine drama at least for that night.

But the next time the Bulls lose ugly, will the claws come out again? Was the game against Charlotte a turning point in the Bulls season? In LaVine’s season? In the relationship between LaVine and Boylen? In how Boylen approaches coaching this team?

The state of the player and coach relationship is definitely something to keep track of moving forward. Like in the game tonight against the Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers have been arguably the most disappointing team in the NBA this season. After a Western Conference Finals appearance last season, they have limped out to a 5-12 record this season and have the second worst record in the conference (ironically the team with the worst record was the Trail Blazers Western Conference Finals opponent last season the Golden State Warriors).

Perhaps even more disappointing? The fact that I still need to do a Google search to remember if Trail Blazers is one or two words every time I write about them.

Anyway, the Trail Blazers have had a few key injuries, but their two stars Damian Lillard (he’s third in franchise history in win shares which is random but I thought it was cool) and CJ McCollum have been mostly healthy. The Trail Blazers needed a shakeup so they took a flyer on former NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony. He’s slowly shaking the rust off, averaging 13 points per game on bad shooting percentages and is a -19 in his three games all of which were losses.

Our old buddy Pau Gasol was having a difficult time rehabbing his left foot after getting surgery on it last May and the Trail Blazers chose to waive him recently. Wish him nothing but the best. If this is the end of his professional basketball playing career, it is a sad day.

Random Stat:

Lauri Markkanen has scored less than 10 points in six games this season. Last season, he did that just four times.

Quote:

Per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, here’s Zach LaVine on the potential importance of the win on Saturday.

“Hopefully this is that turning point for us. Every team has one.”