Bobby Portis, welcome to the NBA. Well, sort of the NBA. The part of the NBA where the likes of Lucas Nogueira, Bruno Cabocio and Norman Powell can make you look bad.
That group of Toronto Raptor wanna-bes did Sunday as the Bulls trailed the entire game and lost 81-66 to the Raptors' hopefuls. It left the Bulls 1-1 in summer league play with the next game Tuesday.
And though No. 1 pick Portis after a sizzling 23 points and seven rebounds Saturday in his debut finished with five points and six rebounds on one of 10 shooting, the rookie showed promise where it matters. He never gave up.
"I feel like I played good," said the upbeat Portis. "Today I just didn't make shots. One of those days. You can't shoot a high percentage every day. For me my energy and effort were still there. Just on offense, I just didn't make the shots. You can't take that and make it seem like you had a bad game. I still tried to contribute as much as I could with my energy and effort and defensive skills.
"I can be rebounding more," admitted Portis. "In college, I used to get all the boards. Now I really have to zone in and get more rebounds than I am getting. I can get in double figures easy if I can push myself to that limit of trying to get more rebounds. My energy and effort is going to be there every game. I'm confident in what I do."
It wasn't a particularly proficient game for any of the Bulls summer campers as they were basically beaten to the lake from the start against a quicker Raptors' group that defended aggressively and had size to control the boards. Doug McDermott, after a scoreless first half shooting zero for five, scored nine straight points in the third quarter when the Bulls rallied to get within 57-48 after three. But the baby Raptors bit off 10 straight points to open the fourth quarter to effectively clinch the win much as the Bulls did to the Timberwolves Saturday.
"The first opportunity for a back-to-back for a lot of these guys," observed Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. "Obviously, we didn't come out and make shots early and I thought that affected us. Didn't get back in transition. You can't let your lack of shot making affect the other end. I thought that happened, at least early in the game. Maybe we were feeling a little too good about ourselves. They were the aggressors, took it right at us; getting loose balls. That's something we'll get on in practice.''
McDermott finished with a team high 11 points along with Cameron Bairstow, the latter who led the Bulls with 11 rebounds. Northwestern's Drew Crawford had 13 points for Toronto. Powell led Toronto with 19.
Beaten on the boards, the Bulls also were limited in pushing the ball in transition, though they attempted some after made baskets. But the Bulls inability to score with 25 percent first half shooting left them behind by double digits most of the game.
Although the overall results were not exemplary, the signs were encouraging for Portis, who isn't as good as the 23 he scored Saturday against No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns and not as bad as his one for 10 with several bricked jumpers Sunday. Somewhere in between would prove to be an excellent addition for the Bulls.
Portis showed more offensive game and comfort facing up compared with playing in the post. He was a bit overwhelmed by the physical rebounding play as he had good position several times but was pushed out of the way and lost rebounds. He'll need to get stronger, though being 20 years old hardly makes him a finished product. He resembles a Taj Gibson-type player with a bit more size and shooting range.
Most important was that he practices a consistent work ethic. Though his game wasn't sharp, he continued racing back down court and constantly hustling.
"Bobby is going to be fine," said Hoiberg. "I thought he was pressing a little bit. Instead of getting that ball moving from side-to-side, he just came down and called for the ball and tried to go one-on-one against too much length. We'll get back to it tomorrow (in practice), make sure we get that ball swung.
"The length that he's playing against right now," Hoiberg noted about the transition for Portis. "He played against Kentucky last year, but other than that there's just not guys (in college) that size. You see the kid (Jordan Bachynski) tonight, he's 7-2. I still thought he was banging at him and trying to go at him. He had a couple good looks at the basket with some jump hooks. Had a couple open looks from the perimeter. Once he missed a few, might have rushed it, but he's been good. And again, the thing I'm excited about is how well he played in mini-camp, how well he played in his first game. This is really the first day he struggled. He played hard. You're always going to get an effort out of Bobby. That's the special thing about the kid. He's 6-10 and has a great motor. He has the intangibles; runs the floor every time, bangs out there, not afraid. He's got a lot of confidence. He plays every possession. For a 6-10 19 (or 20) year old that's pretty impressive stuff. He's a wonder kid, respectful. He'll be fine."
Similarly, it's a project for Hoiberg with McDermott as well since McDermott still seemed to be pressing some with his outside shot. He's scored best these two games inside, off the dribble in the half court and with running shots. Left open on the perimeter, he still seems to be aiming, almost like he's trying too hard to please. In practice, he shoots those with ease and confidence. Not so much in games, which seems a hangover from last season's quick hooks when he did play. Hoiberg understands and has emphasized confidence and support with McDermott.
"It is a big year for Doug," Hoiberg agreed. "I thought he got it going there in the second half. When Doug starts making baskets you can play through him. I think he's going to have that ability whatever level, whether it's summer league or once we get going with our big team. I've got a lot of confidence in Doug and I've been trying to portray that to him and get him to go out and play with confidence. That's what it's all about. Watching early games last year, I thought he played well early in the season, and then had the unfortunate knee injury obviously. You know the big thing right now with Doug is getting that confidence back, and he's been great for us so far with the mini-camp, had a great game [Saturday], struggled early [Sunday], but finished the game strong.''
"He had great looks," said Hoiberg. "I thought he passed a couple of them off. He can't do that. When Doug has an open shot he has to shoot it. For Doug right now, it's just about getting him back in that mode of being a basketball player. He's very versatile. Scores inside, outside, mid-range, so again, I keep going back to the word confidence. But that's what it's all about for him.''
The Bulls did make an addition Sunday, signing summer league reserve 6-10, 275-pound big man Cristiano Felicio for training camp. He previously played in Brazil.
As for the Bulls rookie big man, Portis, nothing like a one for 10 is going to take him down for the count.
"I'm just a guy who tries to be myself on the court," says Portis. "I don't try to go out and do things I'm not capable of. I try to just be Bobby Portis. Today I felt like I was me; I just didn't make shots. Sometimes it's not your day. So I have to come back Tuesday ready to work. This is a long summer league, five or six more games. I just have to stay ready.
"You are going to have ups and downs as a basketball player," noted Portis. "You can't let that affect you. It's not going to be a great day every day. I learned that in college. You can't have 82 good games. There have to be some mishaps in there every now and then."
A bump in the road. This is a journey. Just a little leak in the tires, but nothing is going to take the air out of this rookie.