The Bulls Saturday got some historic individual performances, but it wasn’t enough as the Portland Trailblazers defeated the Bulls 103-95.
The Bulls fell to 30-28 while streaking Portland moved to 31-28. It was the Bulls second straight loss after three wins in a row and the seventh loss in the last 10 games. The Bulls now are eighth in the Eastern Conference. It was the 13th straight game the Bulls had given up at least 100 points. They trailed by 15 in the second quarter.
The Bulls were led by Pau Gasol with his first triple double as a Bull with 22 points, 16 rebounds and a career best 14 assists. Gasol also had three blocks. E’Twaun Moore had 19 points and Doug McDermott had 18 points and his first streak of five straight games scoring in double figures. Bobby Portis had his fifth double/double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 31 points for Portland.
The Bulls got disappointing news before the game when Derrick Rose still could not go with leg issues. He joined Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic still out and Joakim Noah out for the season. It left the backup backcourt starting of Moore along with Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson and Gasol. The Bulls got the ball moving nicely to start with Gasol accumulating four assists in the first six minutes with nice back door cut passing to Dunleavy and McDermott and a somewhat accidental lob off the backboard for a Taj Gibson dunk. It gave the Bulls a 12-5 start. But Portland star guard Lillard zigged and zagged amidst Bulls defenders for 15 first quarter points in a 21-21 tie after one quarter.
The absence of three of the team’s top four scorers continued to have an effect as the Bulls struggled for offense while Portland pressured Gasol and McDermott, the team’s remaining best scoring options. McDermott continued to show considerable aggression and activity and Bobby Portis was fierce on the defensive boards. But otherwise, the Bulls played at a slower pace than the Trailblazers and quickly fell behind as Portland had a 16-5 run to open the second quarter for a 37-26 lead. Portland did it with its reserves as Aaron Brooks drew three fouls in a minute. McDermott had 10 first half points and Gasol had 11 points and nine assists by halftime. But Moore and Dunleavy were a combined four of 18 at the half as the Bulls trailed 51-41. Lillard had 19.
Moore after missing eight of nine first half shots got the Bulls back into the game by making his first six shots of the third quarter. His sixth made it 69-63 Portland. Gasol broke his career high in assists with a pass to Portis for a jumper and Moore brought the Bulls within 71-68 with a three with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. Portland then took a 79-73 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Trailblazers took the momentum back to start the fourth quarter as the Bulls left Myers Leonard open for a three pointer and fell behind 86-75. Unable to constrain Lillard, the Bulls still trailed 92-83 with just over five minutes remaining. The Bulls then pulled within 98-92 with three minutes left after a Dunleavy three and Gasol jumper. But the Bulls lost a pair of fourth quarter jump balls that kept them from putting enough pressure on the Trailblazers. The Bulls had a late chance getting within 101-95 with about 30 seconds left. But Tony Snell scoreless for the game missed his fifth straight shot on a breakout.