GAME NIGHT FROM UNITED CENTER: Happy New Year! Portland (18-17, 10-7 on the road) at Bulls (13-23, 9-8 at home)TV: NBC Sports Chicago: Neil Funk and Stacey King 7PM CT tipoff.Radio: WLS 890AM: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and Steve Kashul 6:30CT pre.LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Mirotic: 18 ppg. Portland: Lillard: 25 ppg.LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen and Mirotic each with 7. Portland: Nurkic: 7.LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 6. Portland: Lillard: 6.CCI 24 SECONDS COMMENTARY: Portland is trying to get a string of wins together. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are outstanding, however Lillard has been sidelined the past four games with a hamstring issue, and the Blazers are 2-2 in his absence. Lillard is a volume scorer, and when he’s in the zone, he can single handily takeover a game. Jusuf Nurnic is a strong post-up player, and this will be a good match up on the block with Robin Lopez.FINAL FROM DC: Wizards 114 Bulls 110.LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Mirotic: 21pts. Wizards: Beal 39pts.LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen 9. Wizards: Morris: 11.LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 11. Wizards: Beal and Wall each with 9.CCI KEYS TO THE GAME: The Wizards intensified their play in the fourth quarter, and it came down to execution. The Wizards made big plays down the stretch with Beal and Wall scoring inside the paint. The Bulls couldn’t secure the missed free throw by Beal and it was one of the biggest plays of the game. I love the heart of these Bulls. They got after it for 48 minutes. They competed and earned their reputation as one of the hardest working teams in the NBA. No quit in this group. 3 point shooting was an issue with open looks, but the Bulls went 8 for 35. The Bulls are maturing and they’ve done a terrific job of late closing out games; this was not one of them, but progress is being made. Beal and Wall were fabulous, but Mike Scott kept Washington in the game with an outstanding first half, and scored 17 points several days after celebrating the birth of his daughter. Kris Dunn recorded his third double-double in the past five games, with an impressive 19-7-11 game. Props to Paul Zipser; his defense at crunch time was terrific. You won’t see it in the box score sheet, but Zipser stayed in the game because he got after it on the defensive side and came through with close outs and deflections.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES
The Celtics are now 30-10 (they went 63-25 in regular season play during the 2017 calendar year). Boston beat the Nets, which helps Cleveland because the Celtics parted with the Nets pick in the Kylie Irving trade.Minnesota blasted Indiana. The Pacers have dropped four in a row. Victor Oladipo missed his third straight game with a sore knee.Lou Williams went off, scoring 40 points 8 assists as the Clippers beat the Hornets.Break up the Mavs! Make it four straight for Dallas. Dennis Smith Jr. scored 11 of his 19 points in the final 1:39 of the fourth quarter in a thriller against OKC.Philly blew an 18 point third quarter lead, then got its act together behind Saric, Embiid, Simmons and Redick to turn back Phoenix.James Harden suffered a hamstring injury in the Rockets double OT 148-142 win over the Lakers. The Rockets play the Bulls at the UC a week from tonight.Memphis by 18 over the Kings.Thanks for reading CCI. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @ctsbulls.Always a pleasure. Happy New Year. I love all of Bulls Nation. Run With The Bulls!