Bulls fall to Trail Blazers, 124-108

The Bulls Wednesday were badly burned by a blaze in Portland, a conflagration set off by the ‘Blazers C.J. McCollum with a career high 50 points through three quarters in a 124-108 Portland victory over the Bulls.

The Bulls lost their fifth straight game and dropped to 18-33. Portland is 29-22. The Bulls play the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday 2:30 central time on their three-game road trip. They finish in Sacramento Monday.

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with a season high 23 points. Denzel Valentine had 15 points. Cristiano Felicio equalled a season high with 12 points, Jerian Grant had 11 points, and Bobby Portis eight points and 10 rebounds.

The shorthanded Bulls were smothered from the start in a 43-19 Portland first quarter led by 28 points from McCollum. The Bulls never suitably recovered from that first quarter collapse, though they outscored Portland in the second quarter and lost the third quarter only 35-31. This hole they dug was more of a journey to the center of the earth. There was no return from that one.

The Bulls were without their three leading scorers with Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn back in Chicago with a personal issue and flu, respectively, and Nikola Mirotic left at the team hotel as trades are discussed. The Bulls then spent much of the first quarter watching, as well. The Trailblazers ripped off a blazing 23-2 start that pretty much ended the game after five minutes. C.J. McCollum went in to set a Portland record and Bulls opponent all-time record with 28 points in the first quarter on 11 of 14 shooting. He easily outscored the entire Bulls team as the Trailblazers shot 74 percent in the first quarter for a 43-19 lead. The Bulls shot just 26 percent in a stunned reaction. Portland extended that lead to 54-28 early in the second quarter before the Bulls showed some fight in return. LaVine got his shot going with nine second quarter points and the Bulls actually answered with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 19. But it proved a discouraging close to the half as Grant made a lazy inbounds pass that Portland intercepted and turned into a dunk at the buzzer for a 67-44 Portland halftime lead. McCollum added just four more points for 32 in the half. LaVine had 12 as the Bulls inched up to 31 percent shooting in the half. Portland was at 63.6 percent.

Portis started the second half in place of Zipser.  The Bulls got a little bit going with threes from LaVine and Holiday to ease back under 20 again. But McCollum resumed his onslaught with a succession of drives, getting to the free throw line and long threes late in the third quarter. McCollum added 18 third quarter points to blow by his career high of 43 points as he had 50 after three quarters. LaVine had 23 through three quarters as the Bulls trailed after three quarters 102-75. The Bulls closed the game playing Ryan Arcidiacono, Antonio Blakeney, Felicio, Zipser and Quincy Pondexter.