The last time the Bulls faced the Portland TrailBlazers, Luol Deng went off for a career-high 40 points in a 110 to 98 victory at the United Center. Today, both teams are in mid-season form, missing players, and playing the east-west rematch at the Rose Garden in Portland.
Portland has run into tough breaks over the last few seasons, after a promising rebuild was in place. Former Rookie of the Year, Brandon Roy is projected to be back in action later this week and he’ll miss the Bulls by a few days. Fortunately for Portland, backups Wes Mathews and Rudy Fernandez make up some of the best backcourt depth in the league to take Roy’s place.
The first half started at a quick pace, with both teams ugly but effective on offense. The Bulls managed to string together a 7-point lead, which was quickly squandered as the Bulls continued to commit petty fouls, including a non-contact, contact foul on Rudy Fernandez, where Luol stepped out of Rudy’s path while Rudy anticipated contact to only go straight to the floor(see picture). On the final possession of the half, Derrick Rose crossed and spun Andre Miller into the floor(sound familiar?) to razz the crowd and get fouled as he barely missed a beautiful and1 highlight. Deng was held scoreless in the first half. The game was tied at 50 all at the end of two quarters.
The third quarter became the LaMarcus Aldridge show. Portland pulled away to take a 9 point lead midway through the period before the Bulls chipped back within 3. The former Bull’s draft pick scored 15 of his career-high 42 points lifting the Blazers to a 75 – 72 lead at the end of three.
Bulls Coach, Tom Thibodeau looked to his bench for a spark, keeping the game close for the first 6 minutes, before Derrick Rose checked back into the game. Portland’s Miller and Fernandez managed to switch the tempo of the game when the Blazers decide to draw contact on each end of the court. After a few garbage moves to draw contact fouls, Derrick was offensively awoken leaving the rest of the game up to the Bulls defense.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, LaMarcus Aldridge showed us why he makes a case for All-Star considerations. Carlos Boozer could not match Aldridge offensively or defensively for most of the night and Taj Gibson or Luol Deng’s double teams only confused the Bull’s frontcourt even more.
The Bulls lose their second straight on the road, 109 to 103. Derrick Rose contributed 36 points and 6 assists, as the Bulls look ahead to Wednesday’s game in Utah.