Ratliff’s Dunk Slams Blazers Past Bulls
Portland 96, Chicago 93
PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 16 (Ticker) -- Theo Ratliff added to the Chicago Bulls' perennial November frustrations.
Ratliff followed Sebastian Telfair's missed layup with a dunk with nine seconds remaining, lifting the Portland Trail Blazers to a 96-93 victory over the Bulls.
The Bulls fell to 0-2 on their annual November road trip and are 1-40 on the trek since the 1999-2000 campaign.
Chicago coach Scott Skiles took the blame for his team's struggles.
"I'm failing right now," Skiles said. "We're not playing any defense right now. That's unacceptable for us. Basically, I'm not getting it done."
Chicago faced a 79-70 deficit entering the final period, but moved in front 89-88 on Luol Deng's dunk with 4:09 left. The teams traded empty possessions until Juan Dixon hit a pair from the line at the 2:18 mark to give Portland the lead.
Chicago's Mike Sweetney followed with a jumper and Randolph and Ratliff each sank 1-of-2 from the line to make it 92-91 with 43 seconds to go. After Dixon missed a 3-pointer, Kirk Hinrich banked in a runner with 15 seconds remaining to give Chicago the lead.
Telfair, who injured his right ankle earlier in the fourth quarter, drew the defense on a drive, but missed a wild layup. However, Ratliff was left alone underneath for the easy follow slam.
"We wanted to create a pick-and-roll high with either Zach or Juan Dixon over in the corner," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "But Sebastian had an opening to the hoop and then we had Theo crashing the boards for the stuff."
"I was trying to get a piece of Zach's man," said Ratliff, who had 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. "I got a piece of his man, then he went out to try to get to Zach and it left me free. It was a great play."
Hinrich missed on the other end and Deng did not hit the rim after grabbing the rebound.
"I thought that I got a good look at the hoop," Hinrich said. "I got the step just like before, just couldn't get it to go this time."
Dixon hit two free throws with less than a second remaining to seal the victory.
"I thought we showed a lot of aggressiveness," McMillan said. "They are a scrappy team, but I thought we scrapped a little more."
Portland made a habit of closing each quarter strongly. Dixon scored four of his 16 points in a 17-4 run that closed the second period and gave the Blazers a 61-52 lead.
"That's just great coaching," Ratliff said. "(McMillan's) trying to keep us poised out there and letting us know situations before they arise. He's just done a great job of orchestrating us."
The Bulls answered with a 10-2 spurt to open the third period, capped by a pair of free throws from Hinrich that cut the deficit to 63-62 with 7:46 left. But Portland scored the final six points, with Dixon's jumper at the buzzer pushing the advantage to 79-70.
"Just because we are a young team doesn't mean that we can't go out there and finish quarters strong," Dixon said. "We're going out there and trying to prove people wrong, and Uncle Theo (Ratliff) came up big for us at the end."
Sweetney had career highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago, which allowed Portland to shoot 52 percent (34-of-66) from the field.
"It doesn't matter what I do if we don't get the win," Sweetney said. "Now we just have to watch the tape and learn what we did wrong."