Bulls top Blazers at home

Bulls improve to 14-8

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By Sam Smith | 12.12.2014 | 8:47 p.m. CT

The Bulls played perhaps their best and most aggressive game of the season Friday in a 115-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Derrick Rose was brilliant with 31 points in relentlessly attacking the Trail Blazers’ interior defense while combining with Aaron Brooks off the bench with 17 points as the two guards dominated the fourth quarter for the Bulls. Nikola Mirotic had 15 points in a 40-15 Bulls reserve edge.

The win was the first for the Bulls against Portland since 2010 and moved their record to 14-8. Portland fell to 17-6 with their first loss to an Eastern Conference team this season after 10 straight wins. The Bulls also went to 4-5 at home. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard each had 35 for Portland in the thrilling up and down game.

Once again it was Aldridge who proved troublesome for the Bulls. In a big way. Overpowering the smaller Taj Gibson to start, then too strong for Nikola Mirotic and too quick for Pau Gasol, Aldridge rolled up 21 first quarter points for a 28-24 Portland lead. The Bulls behind an active Mirotic came back strong to open the second quarter against the Portland reserves with a 16-2 start that enabled the Bulls to take a 59-51 halftime lead despite 25 points from Aldridge. The Bulls response was vital with 15 first half points from a driving, dashing and dishing Derrick Rose, whose 11 first quarter points rallied the Bulls from Aldridge’s hot start. Portland with its guards getting more involved after halftime hit the Bulls with a 10-0 run to pull within two. The Bulls went on to lead 82-78 going into the fourth quarter.

Observations:

1. Derrick Rose played his most aggressive of the season, going at the basket earlier in the game as the Bulls relied more on Rose early than inside/outside with Gasol.

2. Nikola Mirotic, who had his career game in Portland last month, outran the Portland big men and was active inside in providing the first half edge for the Bulls.

3. Big night for the Bulls bench as Aaron Brooks came on in the fourth quarter with a dozen points and teamed with Rose for 18 straight Bulls points in the fourth.