Bobby Portis ejected on a questionable play late in loss to Wizards

Bobby Portis ejected on a questionable play late in loss to Wizards

The action happens in a split second, but the reaction can take minutes where human emotion and judgment enter into the equation, along with reputation.

Enter Bobby Portis, who instinctively saw Washington Wizards point guard Tomas Satoransky cutting across the baseline and rising for a dunk.

Portis went up high for the block, getting the ball and a chunk of the lighter Satoransky as he took a hard fall and the Wizards training staff was immediately called to the floor.

A common foul was upgraded to a flagrant 2 and Portis was ejected with 2:35 remaining in the Bulls’ 101-90 loss at the United Center Saturday night. Although Nikola Mirotic left Chicago nearly two weeks ago, the remnants of their preseason incident could’ve very well factored into the officials decision to throw Portis out.

“First time I’ve ever been involved in it. Something new for me,” Portis said. “Not gonna be involved in it too much in my career. At the same time, the refs called what they called, you have to respect the refs. No injuries intended on Satoransky, just competing, playing hard like I always do.”

Similar to the NFL and its changing rules surrounding helmet-to-helmet hits, the NBA’s rule on flagrant fouls are subject to interpretation based on the definition of “unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. It is an unsportsmanlike act and the offender is ejected immediately.”

Portis made a split-second decision and suffered the ultimate penalty for playing with instinct, completing his 13-point, four-rebound night in 22 minutes—one of the few Bulls who was on the plus side (+3) in a game where a predictable letdown happened after an emotional high of Friday night’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“As a basketball player you’re not worried about trying to hurt somebody,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com. “You’re worried about trying to protect your teammates. He blew by my teammate, tight game, we’re down eight at the time, I think I can make a play on the basketball, maybe we can hit a three and we’ll be down five.”

Portis made clear there was no intent to hurt Satoransky, and the collision made things look worse than the play Portis was attempting to make.

“Everybody knows the rule,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s a dangerous play. If he had to do it all over again, he probably would have taken it back. It’s a competitive moment. He’s trying to prevent the dunk but it’s one of those things.”

At some point for Portis, the incident with Mirotic will be a footnote in his dossier as opposed to the headliner. He won’t always be subject for fodder from fans in visiting arenas, but for now he’ll have to wear this scarlet letter.

It didn’t help that Portis was in the wrong place at the wrong time earlier in the game, with his knee making contact with backup point guard Tim Frazier’s head, causing a nasal fracture for Frazier in the second quarter.

Already without John Wall following knee surgery, Portis’s play against Satoransky left the Wizards without a point guard for the last three minutes, even though the Bulls couldn’t take advantage.

“I gotta go out there and play basketball,” Portis said. “I hear it from the crowd every away game, in the streets. It don’t bother me. I’ll probably hear it the next couple years.”

After serving his eight-game suspension to start the season he’s been one of the most dependable reserves in the NBA, averaging 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20.9 minutes. His player efficiency rating is nearly 21 and the Bulls’ off/on numbers were better with Portis on the floor than it was with Mirotic, although Mirotic’s gaudy numbers garnered more attention.

But the first thing that comes to mind with Portis is a potential reputation building, one he hopes to avoid.

“It looked, to me, late in the game—in a close game—it looked to me like maybe Bobby was going across the lane to make a play at the ball,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I don’t think it was a dirty play. I think he was going over to try to make a play, to prevent a layup.”

Satoransky was having a night, leading the inconsistent Wizards with 25 points and six assists, hitting five triples as the Bulls focused their attention on Wall’s All-Star backcourt mate, Bradley Beal.

Beal was just three of 13 as the Bulls gave themselves a chance after trailing by 16 midway through the third quarter. With Zach LaVine unavailable on a back-to-back and Kris Dunn still not back in action, the Bulls had seven players score in double figures but couldn’t produce enough offense consistently.

Justin Holiday scored 15 and Lauri Markkanen was rediscovered by his teammates after a seven-shot performance Friday night, but couldn’t take full advantage of his 19 shots, hitting only five.

The Bulls shot just 42.5 percent and were nine of 32 from 3-point range, but Hoiberg lauded the effort. After cutting the Wizards’ lead to seven with 4:14 left on a Holiday triple, the Bulls went scoreless.

“I thought we did a great job of hanging in there when they got up double digits,” Hoiberg said. “We have to get off to better starts, we defended much better in the second half. That was the difference in the game, but it had nothing to do with effort.”

Too bad for the Bulls and for Portis, that effort wasn’t rewarded.

Jabari Parker has bounce and perseverance, but what's in the Chicago native's future?


Jabari Parker has bounce and perseverance, but what's in the Chicago native's future?

Jabari Parker still has bounce.

Either that or he’s gained it after two ACL surgeries that have stalled his once promising career, evidenced by his devastating drive down the middle of the Bulls defense for an unexpected dunk.

Or his flash on the break, finishing with a one-handed slam from Brandon Jennings in the second quarter.

But what does it mean for his future?

Parker played in his first game back in his hometown after returning from injury, his first start of the season came in the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ franchise player.

In 30 minutes, he was three for 10 from the field for six points, four assists and three rebounds in his 20th game of the season as the Bucks held off the Bulls for a 118-105 win at the United Center. For the season, Parker is averaging 11.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 21.7 minutes while shooting a career-high 51 percent in a contract year as restricted free agency is looming.

Outwardly the Bucks say they’ve been pleased with his play, but the rumors persist this marriage won’t last long.

“(He’s) very good, for someone who’s gone through that twice,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said. “His demeanor, his approach, is very good. He’s worked extremely hard to get back in that position he’s in. Each night we ask a lot of him that we do of everybody else. Scoring is one thing. We need him to rebound. We know he can playmake. Defend. He can play inside, he can play outside. He’s a versatile player.”

Hard to remember, it was Parker who was supposed to be that guy for the Bucks when he was drafted second in 2014, as the argument going into that draft was about Parker or Andrew Wiggins as the best player.

The Chicagoan has had to endure stops and starts since his NBA career began, tearing his ACL 25 games into his rookie campaign. He returned to play 75 games the next season before appearing to blossom even more last year, averaging 20.1 points in the first 50 games.

Then he tore it again right before the All-Star break, halting the Bucks’ vision of having three versatile wings that could cause havoc in Antetokounmpo, Parker and Khris Middleton, an underrated star.

Not only that, it made for awkward contract negotiations as Parker was recovering from surgery before the October deadline and the Bucks reportedly offered a three-year deal around $18 million annually that Parker turned down in the expectation of getting a max deal.

With Antetokounmpo taking yet another step into superstardom, it’s difficult for the Bucks to commit financially that way, especially when Parker doesn’t seem like a natural fit next to Antetokounmpo.

Parker, like many others from his draft class including the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, face an uncertain future with restricted free agency this summer. At least in LaVine’s case, the Bulls have called him one of their building blocks after the Jimmy Butler trade.

For Parker, it’s been reported he was shopped around the trade deadline and nearly moved—which coincided with his season debut Feb. 2. As if he had enough to worry about in terms of getting his body in order and trying to prove where he fit within his own team’s hierarchy, the business of the NBA reared its ugly head.

For the Bucks, their No. 1 priority is Antetokounmpo, as it should be. Parker finding his way amongst the circumstances just made things murkier, just recently crossing the 30-minute threshold against the Clippers where he scored a season-high 20 points.

“With the minute restrictions it’s hard to play,” Prunty said. “Actually I think for him, we’ve struggled with scoring off our bench. He gives us scoring off our bench.”

Friday was only the second time this month where Parker didn’t score in double figures, so even if the future is on his mind, it’s not turning into selfish play—at least offensively.

You can see the missed rotations on defense and note how well the team plays when the ball moves from side to side—a common tacit note of criticism with players like Parker and Carmelo Anthony, guys who need the ball and space on the floor to score.

“Just trying to make it happen,” Parker said. “Coming off the bench, or I’m starting, just trying to do what I can.”

Middleton is a more natural fit next to Antetokounmpo, because of the economy of space he uses when he gets the ball. He rarely uses more than the space around his shadow and has found a way to be efficient around Antetokounmpo.

Parker is more naturally gifted, though, and at least while he’s in Milwaukee, finding ways to play within that simple construct is his best bet.

“This last stretch of games will be important going into the playoffs,” Jennings said. “Finding his rhythm. Me being out there with him, I’m trying to get him going, get him into a better rhythm and things like that. Make the game easier for him.”

Jennings is in his second stint with the Bucks and was in a similar position before his restricted free agency. He and the Bucks couldn’t come to terms, and he wound up being traded to Detroit in a package, which involved sending Middleton among others to Milwaukee.

He knows how thought of the future can play into someone’s mind, let alone the double task of returning from another serious injury.

“It shouldn’t. At my age now (28), I would say it shouldn’t,” Jennings said. “But I know at that age it did for me. From me to him, he gotta look at the big picture. We’re going to the playoffs. We have a chance to get out the first round. You can’t worry about that. That takes care of itself. Once you win, sky’s the limit.”

For his part, Parker and the Bucks are saying the right things, knowing the summer awaits where the true feelings for all will be shown and a future path will be decided.

“No, I don’t think it was. I don’t think it has. My play dictates (this summer),” Parker said. “I think I’ve been doing good so far. I don’t have anything to worry about.”

Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history


Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history

We're trying to figure out the best season in Bulls franchise history, and we want your help in deciding.

Because the Bulls tout the greatest player in basketball history, who could have made up this list by himself, we're giving Michael Jordan his own side of the bracket. But the other side of the bracket is also filled with some pretty memorable and remarkable campaigns.

So read up on each matchup and then have your voice heard by voting on our Twitter page here. Check out the entire bracket in the graphic above.

The Jordan Region

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96) vs. No. 8 Michael Jordan (1990-91)

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96): Jordan was on a mission in his first full season back from retirement. He led the Bulls to a then-record 72 wins with a regular-season MVP award, All-Star MVP and romp through the NBA playoffs, where the Bulls went 15-3 en route to their fourth NBA title. Jordan won his eighth straight scoring title at 30.4 points a game, with nine games where he put up 40 or more. He saved his best for Detroit, scoring 53 with 11 rebounds and six steals in early March. To prove Jordan was getting better as he aged, he shot a career-high 43 percent from 3-point range at age 33.

No. 2 Michael Jordan (1990-91): 1990-91: Jordan's second MVP came with his first NBA title, as he was at the peak of his powers physically combined with the ultimate team success, with the Bulls finally getting past Detroit before defeating the Lakers in the Finals. He shot a career-high 54 percent from the field while averaging 31.5 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists as he began to fully embrace the triangle offense in Phil Jackson's second season. Jordan had 57 games where he shot better than 50 percent from the field, and was among the league leaders in steals at 2.7 per game while earning his fourth straight All-Defensive First Team honor.

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11) vs. No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94)

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11): Where to begin? The youngest MVP in league history took the league by storm, averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62 wins. Rose had been named an All-Star the previous season but took his game to new heights in Year 3, appearing in 81 games, making 128 3-pointers (after making a combined 32 his first two seasons) while helping the Bulls rank first in defensive efficiency under first year head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose and the Bulls lost in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, with Rose shooting a paltry 35 percent on 24 attempts per game. But his historic season will always go down as one of the franchise’s best, and the only non-Jordan MVP.

No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94): Yeah, well what would Scottie be without MJ? We found out that answer in 1993-94, when Pippen took the reins of the franchise as Jordan rode the Birmingham bus as a minor-league baseball player. Pippen responded with a sensational season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He averaged 2.9 steals, shot 49 percent from the field and became a 3-point threat for the first time in his career. He was named First Team All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive First Team, and finished third to Hakeem and The Admiral in MVP voting. He averaged 22.8/8.3/4.6 in the postseason but ultimately proved it was easier to win in the spring with MJ by his side. Still, this individual season was one of the franchise’s best, if not the best. Hardware isn’t everything.