On the spectrum of bad Chicago Bulls losses this season, where does this one fall?
The Bulls fell 117-94 at the hands of a Portland Trail Blazers team that came in with the second-worst record in the Western Conference. They were obviously underachieving with guys like Damian Lillard, Hassan Whiteside, and CJ McCollum on the roster.
Tonight, though, none of those guys played better than former Chicago Bull Carmelo Anthony. He looks really weird in a Trail Blazers uniform, but obviously that had no bearing on his effectiveness tonight. The future Hall of Famer scored 25 points on 10-for-20 from the field. All night, he got the matchups he wanted and dominated basically everybody the Bulls put on him when he was isolated.
There was a sequence in the fourth quarter where he blew by Tomas Satoransky, dunked, the Bulls stepped over the line on the ensuing inbound play to turn the ball back over to the Trail Blazers, and Anthony then hit a 3-point field goal. It was that kind of night for the Chicago Bulls. The United Center also erupted in a “We Want Melo” chant in the fourth quarter when the Bulls trailed by 25 points:
Damian Lillard was also fantastic without shooting well (or much), scoring 13 points and dishing out 12 assists. CJ McCollum scored 21 points as well.
A Damian Lillard stepback 3-pointer with 7:34 in the third extended the lead to 13 points. The Trail Blazers meticulously built their lead from there, and the Bulls didn’t threaten after that, going down by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter.
At least for the first half, the game was competitive.
A fast-paced first quarter featured several lead changes and Carmelo Anthony casting up and hitting shots like it was 2010. The newly minted Trail Blazer finished the quarter with 12 points on 5-for-8 from the field. The Bulls finished the quarter with a one-point lead.
The Blazers started to take over in the second quarter, with a host of Kris Dunn bricked 3-pointers (five of them) mucking up the Bulls’ offense while Portland started scoring at will. The Blazers open up a 13-point lead toward the end of the first half, but the Bulls made a charge after that.
Denzel Valentine got non-garbage time playing time, checking in at the end of the first half and hitting his first shot from the field (a 3-pointer). He had a good quarter, hitting three of his four shot attempts for seven points, which was tops among Bulls bench unit players for the half.
Lauri Markkanen had a good first half as well, hitting a couple 3-point field goals and also leading a break that ended with a nice assist to Valentine. He faded in the second half by attempting just two shots. Coming off his explosive 49 points against the Charlotte Hornets, Zach LaVine cooled off considerably tonight to the tune of 18 points on 6-for-13 from the field.
The Trail Blazers took advantage of some small Bulls lineups to grab nine offensive boards, which helped them build a 62-54 lead at the break The second half wasn’t competitive after the Blazers outscored the Bulls 30-18 in the third quarter.
For the Bulls, this was a rough loss after the feel-good victory on Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets. The Bulls are 3-7 at home this season after making playing better at the United Center a talking point before the season.
Next up, a date with the NBA-worst Golden State Warriors out in Cali awaits the Bulls on Wednesday. If the Bulls can’t win that one...