Bulls

Bobby Portis focused on improving despite injury woes

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USA TODAY

Bobby Portis focused on improving despite injury woes

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Bobby Portis made his presence felt in his second game back in the Bulls’ lineup.

With 2.3 seconds remaining in the first half of the Bulls’ 124-112 Wednesday loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Zach LaVine drew a shooting foul against Evan Turner. While officials reviewed the play to see how many free throws LaVine would shoot, Portis got in Turner’s face. He had attempted to set a screen on Turner before the foul, and Turner reacted with a shove.

The two were separated before things could escalate, but the presence of Portis and the fire that he brings was a welcome sight for a Bulls team that has been without it for much of this season. He missed the previous seven games with a sprained right ankle before returning to action in Sunday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, scoring 17 points off the bench while being held to a 20-minute limit.

The confrontation with Turner woke Portis up on Wednesday, and he scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, shooting 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point range.

“It felt good to see some shots go down,” Portis told NBC Sports Chicago after the game. “I’m happy to be back out there helping my team as much as I can. I just wanted to do what I do on a nightly basis.”

This season has not gone as planned for Portis. At the start of the season, his representatives and the Bulls’ front office failed to reach an agreement on an extension to his rookie contract, which will make him a restricted free agent on July 1.

Portis elected to bet on himself to have a breakout year and cash out on the open market, but his season has been hampered by injuries. Five games into the season, he suffered a sprained right MCL that caused him to miss 23 games. He returned to action on Dec. 10 in a loss to the Sacramento Kings, but played in just five games before suffering the ankle injury that kept him out until Sunday.

Now, Portis is trying to salvage a season that has been disappointing for reasons out of his control.

“Obviously, injuries are a part of life,” Portis said. “You can’t really control it. All I can do is when I get hurt, work as hard as I can to get back on the court. That’s what I’ve done up to this point. Obviously I want to be out there each and every game, to go hard for my team and for the organization. I’ve had a couple of setbacks, but I’m happy to be back out there playing the game.”

In his fourth season in the NBA, Portis has embraced his role as an energy scorer off the bench. He’ll never shy away from taking a shot, and he’s tenacious on the glass at both ends. In that regard, he’s picked up right where he left off before the ankle injury.

“I thought his poise was great,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “He dropped his knees on his shot. His shoot looked smooth. He was in rhythm. He’s an inside-outside threat, and we love that. He’s still getting his sea legs on his closeouts, which will take awhile. But we need him to be a two-way player for us, so he’ll have a lot of responsibility.”

That two-way impact has been a work in progress throughout Portis’ career. With the Bulls sitting at 10-31 on the season and simply hoping at this point to see some development from their core of young players, Portis wants to continue to become more consistent on the defensive end of the floor.

“I’ve been getting better,” Portis said. “When I first came into the league, I was just an offensive player. I just wanted to put the ball in the hole. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned the tricks of the trade, the defensive schemes that the Chicago Bulls want to run. I’ve learned it all now. I’m just trying to grasp as much as possible.”

 

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Markkanen leaves with illness, Finnish website ‘Rumba’ shows us some love

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Markkanen leaves with illness, Finnish website ‘Rumba’ shows us some love

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, Dave Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 112-103 loss to Toronto.

0:30 - Reaction to the loss to the Raptors

2:45 - How to approach these final 2 weeks

3:35 - On Markkanen and leaving game due to illness

5:50 - Viewer comment on Markkanen’s offseason goals

9:00 - Is the Dirk comparison hurting Lauri?

10:20 - Viewer comment on Lauri needs to get ‘mean’

12:40 - Viewer question on what food to eat while watching Bulls

15:30 - Finnish music website ‘Rumba’ shows us some love

22:50 - Viewer question about Dave shaving his head if Bulls land Zion

23:55 - Do Bulls have 3 All-Stars on this roster?

25:20 - Mavs do ‘big head’ Luka night, which Bulls player would be best for this?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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Three takeaways: Wayne Selden carries the offense as Bulls fall in Toronto

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USA TODAY

Three takeaways: Wayne Selden carries the offense as Bulls fall in Toronto

Wayne Selden continues to make a case to be a Bull in 2020

Selden was a part of the the trade that sent Justin Holiday to the Memphis Grizzlies, and while the trade was certainly made to get some draft capital, the front office has to be pleased with Selden’s play down the stretch. Overall he has done enough to be a part of the Bulls supporting cast in the 2019-20 season.

On Tuesday night against the Raptors, Selden scored 13 PTS in the first half on 5/10 shooting and was the driving force behind the Bulls offense as Lauri Markkanen struggled mightily.

He finished the game with agame-high 20 PTS ob 8/15 shooting from the field. Selden has been an awesome scorer from midrange this season and is taking that shot more than any point in his career. Per Cleaning the Glass, he is in the 84th percentile among all NBA forwards as a midrange shooter (46 percent).

Selden has shot a hair under 34 percent as a Bulls, and the shooting should be expected to see an uptick should he return to Chicago, as he is a career 35 percent 3PT shooter. Selden does not get to the free throw line much, but his scoring ability in the midrange makes him a legit pick-and-roll ball handler for Jim Boylen.

For the Bulls to take a step forward next season, they need to surround Markkanen and LaVine with players who can make the 3PT shot at a respectable rate, run the pick-and-roll and defend NBA wings. Selden checks off all three boxes and is unlikely to command a crazy amount on the open market, making him a solid candidate to return.

“Arc” Madness

Ryan Arcidiacono pulled out a solid performance on his birthday. Arcidiacono turned 26 years old on Tuesday night and racked up 13 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST and 2 STLS while starting for the injured Kris Dunn.

Arcidiacono has been great in the pick-and-roll all season, a testament to his high basketball IQ and shooting ability. He is shooting around 37 percent from the 3PT line on the year and the Bulls offense has looked similar if not better when “Arc” is running the show.

He understands not picking up your dribble to early in order to create better passing angles for the roll man in pick-and-roll situations. Arcidiacono’s carefulness with the ball--elite 4.21 assist-to-turnover ratio--has resulted in some nice finishes for little used players like Cristiano Felicio.

Boylen loves Arcidiacono’s game because of his grit and tenacity, and that shines through in moments like Tuesday night when he was the third-leading rebounder (6 REB) for the short-handed Bulls.

He only finished with two assists in about 30 minutes of action but played more off-ball while Shaq Harrison handled a lot of the ball handling duties. And that versaitility is yet another thing that Arcidiacono has used this season to prove that he is a legitimate NBA guard.

His creativeness as a passer, shooting and overall effort level make him a fan favorite and depending on what the Bulls do over the offseason, he could be a bigger part of next year’s team.

Lauri Markkanen struggles continue

Lauri Markkanen had yet another clunker of a game, shooting 2/10 from the field in just over 16 minutes of playing time. Markkanen is shooting 40 percent from the field in March, his worst overall shooting month so far this season.

Whether or not it is general fatigue or old injury woes flaring up, something doesn’t seem quite right with Markkanen. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls shut him down with only seven games remaining in the season. He has does not have a ton left to prove this year, as he has clearly improved from his rookie season, especially when it comes to crashing the glass consistently (9.0 RPG in ‘18-’19).

Through 52 games Markkanen averaged 18.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 APG and shot 36.1 percent from the 3PT line. He showed tremendous strides as a ball handler and passer even if the numbers don’t exactly reflect it. Tuesday night was a disappointing one for “The Finnisher”, but if it does end up being the last game of the season for him, it doesn’t take away from what was a great sophomore season from the 21-year old Markkanen.