The Bulls Monday battled back all game, but Portland was able to blaze a 112-110 trail to victory over the Bulls.
The Bulls were unable to recover from a lax defensive first half in which Portland scored 65 points on 55 percent shooting and outrebounded the Bulls with 18 assists to 11 for the Bulls in the half.
The Bulls in the midst of their only four games in five nights stretch fell to 1-2 as they move on to Detroit Tuesday. The Bulls fell to 11-9 overall and 5-3 at home. Portland is 12-10.
Dwyane Wade led the Bulls with 34 points, one fewer than his season high. Jimmy Butler added 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Nikola Mirotic had a season high 18 points off the bench and Isaiah Canaan added 10. Robin Lopez had seven points and 14 rebounds.
Jerian Grant started at point guard with Rajon Rondo suspended one game for what the Bulls said was conduct detrimental to the team. Rondo had missed the game in Portland with an ankle sprain and Grant had his best game of the season with 18 points. Coach Fred Hoiberg said Doug McDermott started practicing with the D-league Windy City Bulls and could be back Thursday and that Michael Carter-Williams was being reevaluated Tuesday and then might go to Windy City. Portland’s Damian Lillard obviously recalled the Grant game in Portland last month and came out blazing as Portland went ahead 23-16 with Lillard scoring 11 points in the first quarter.
The Bulls got Wade back from a day of rest Saturday and Wade seemed rested, matching Lillard with 11 in the quarter as the Bulls took a 32-29 lead after one. The Bulls shot 56.5 percent in the sort of fast paced perimeter game that Portland prefers. Wade continued to pile up his numbers in the second quarter along with Butler, though it was sometimes in vain as the Trailblazers were blazing the scoring trail. Portland went ahead 45-40 hitting seven straight shots. The Bulls responded behind Wade and Butler for a 9-4 run to tie the game at 49. But Portland with Lillard totaling 17 in the first half took a 65-57 halftime lead. Wade with 23 and Butler combined for 36 Bulls points. No one else among the Bulls had more than six. Portland had four players scoring in double figures in the half.
The Bulls tightened up their defense to start the second half with Butler playing Lillard. After a Portland free throw to open the half, the Bulls scored 10 straight straight to take a 67-66 lead on a Lopez tip in. Wade continued to make difficult shots and attack the basket and with the Bulls, as Hoiberg says, making them feel you, edged ahead 82-77 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Mirotic added a three, though a desperation three by C.J. McCollum at the buzzer brought Portland within 87-86 going into the fourth quarter. McCollum and Mirotic matched early fourth quarter threes, but Portland moved ahead 98-93 with seven minutes left on three driving by Evan Turner. Portland piled it on behind more from Turner and a Lillard three to take a 103-93 lead with 5:55 left. The Bulls again turned up the defense, though a bit late and got within 108-103 with 1:11 on Wade and Butler banging to the basket for free throws.