Notebook: Trail Blazers 99, Bulls 89

Posted Mar 21, 2013 11:50 PM

Paul Ladewski, for

THE FACTS: Hours after Derrick Rose provided a less-than-encouraging update on his immediate future, the Bulls hoped to get a boost from the returns of Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich after extended layoffs. Didn't happen. The fourth-place Trail Blazers made it look easy in a 99-89 victory, only their 10th on the road this season. The Bulls continued to resemble a worn-down, offense-starved group that needed Rose in the worst way.

In one of their best stretches away from home this season, the Trail Blazers shot 58 percent in the field, committed one turnover and outscored the hosts by a 32-16 margin in the second quarter. The backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and Eric Maynor combined for 13 points and three assists to lead the way.

The normally reliable Bulls defense never did find a way to contain Lillard (24 points, seven assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points, eight rebounds), in particular. The inside-outside combination had 42 points through three quarters, only 11 fewer than the Bulls as a whole.

QUOTABLE I: "They played well. The first quarter was fine. Second quarter was bad. We have to be up on them more than we were. You give them space, they are going to score. We need to play better."
-- Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau.

THE STAT: The Trail Blazers beat the Bulls for the fourth consecutive time, as their size and athleticism continued to pose a difficult matchup even when Rose was available. They Bulls haven't won the season series since the 2006-07 campaign.

TURNING POINT: At the start of the second period, the visitors rattled off 14 consecutive points to take a 34-21 lead and control of the game. All five players on the court scored during the run -- Lillard, Maynor, center Meyers Leonard and forwards Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson (21 rebounds).

QUOTABLE II: "We rotated on the pick-and-roll very well. This was one of our best efforts all year. When you play against a physical team in the paint like they are, you have to match that effort."
-- Aldridge.

HOT: The Trail Blazers connected on 10-of-21 shots from beyond the arc.

NOT: The Bulls misfired on 10-of-14 3-point attempts.

GOOD MOVE: Blazers coach Terry Stotts reduced his rotation to seven players, who combined to play all except six of the 240 total minutes.

QUOTABLE III: "I didn't expect a seven-man rotation, but after the first half, I didn't want to screw up and mess with what had worked."
-- Stotts.

BAD MOVE: Too often Aldridge was given room to maneuver away from the basket, and he responded with 14 field goals in 23 tries.

QUOTABLE IV: "He's a tough cover every night. That guy can can really shoot the ball, score in the post, score in a lot of different ways. You've got to give credit where credit is due, but we didn't execute our game plan very well."
-- Bulls' Joakim Noah on Aldridge.

ROOKIE WATCH: Lillard had his way with Hinrich and Nate Robinson, whom he toasted for 16 points and six assists in the middle two quarters.

QUOTABLE V: "He's very impressive for a rookie. He plays with a lot of poise. (He and Rose) are different, but from a standpoint that both guys let their games do their talking, that part is very similar."

-- Thibodeau.

NOTABLE: Hinrich started at point guard, while Gibson (14 points, nine rebounds) was productive off the bench. ... The Bulls continued to lobby on behalf of Noah (18 points, six rebounds) for Defensive Player of the Year honors. At game time, Noah (3.49) ranked behind only Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (3.80) and Los Angeles Lakers counterpart Dwight Howard (3.51) in blocked shot and steals per game in the league. ... Wesley Matthews isn't widely known as a go-to guy outside league circles perhaps, but statistics suggest that the Trail Blazers guard should be in the discussion. His 15 3-pointers in clutch situations (less than a six-point difference, less than five minutes to play) were tied for the league league.

UP NEXT: For the Trail Blazers, Friday @ Atlanta, Sunday @ Oklahoma City, Wednesday vs. Brooklyn. For the Bulls, Saturday vs. Indiana, Sunday @ Minnesota, Wednesday vs. Miami.