Bulls

Bulls: Bobby Portis impresses in Summer League opener

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Bulls: Bobby Portis impresses in Summer League opener

LAS VEGAS — In a conference that featured four players in his conference taken before Bobby Portis was selected by the Bulls at No. 22—all from Kentucky, it should be noted—it was he who was player of the year in the SEC.

So he’s no stranger to being the undercard, particularly in his summer league opener that just so happened to feature the first overall pick, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, who played for Kentucky.

But Towns might as well have had a bullseye on his back for Portis to go after as they were matched up throughout, as Portis was listed as a center in the Bulls’ 84-71 win Saturday at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Portis showed his worth in a 23-point, seven-rebound performance that, while tempered by the reality of Summer League, excited those who witnessed it.

“I had an ‘okay’ game,” deadpanned Portis afterward. “I could’ve made some more free throws, grabbed more rebounds.”

[MORE: McDermott, Portis headline Bulls' Summer League roster]

So hyped up and intense for his first taste of NBA basketball, he had to pull himself out the game a few times because he tired himself out—which pleased Fred Hoiberg.

“That showed me he was playing with great effort,” Hoiberg said.

The Bulls coach added a little spice by purposely matching up Portis with Towns to get the competitive juices flowing—as if Portis needed extra Red Bull anyways.

“We talked about matchups and said let’s throw him at Karl and see what he’s made of,” Hoiberg said. “He went out there and was aggressive, looking for his shot. Ran the floor extremely well.”

Portis wore a satisfied smile after he backed Towns down from the 3-point line for a hook shot that displayed a soft touch—more importantly showing the necessary strength in establishing post position.

[RELATED: Bulls: Jimmy Butler's past won't be too far out of sight]

He showed no hesitation in unleashing a triple near the top of the key, one that didn’t look as fluid but was just as effective when it fell through the net. Portis was 5-for-6 from the field in the first half, hitting a baseline jumper and generally looking comfortable on the floor.

After running the floor extremely hard for two alley-oop dunks, Portis’ tank was on empty and he asked out.

“I’m not intimidated by anyone,” Portis said. “I’m not worried about a matchup. I’m just going out there and playing my game, trying to be the best player I can be for this franchise.”

Towns’ moments came in flashes, showing his uncanny passing skills and even coming across the lane to block layups with relative ease—layups that jump started the Timberwolves fast break.

Towns got going in the second half, getting a measure of revenge on his counterpart in backing him down for a hook shot of his own and on the next possession, facing him up from 20 feet out for a jumper.

Towns finished with nine points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes, ceding the individual matchup but even the most optimistic Bulls fan couldn’t foresee Portis nailing three triples, not missing until his last attempt in the fourth quarter.

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“He’s been comfortable,” Hoiberg said. “He took that wide open one, that last one is the only three he missed.”

“A couple coaches were grumbling, I said “(bleep) guys he’s 3-3 let’s see what he’s got. It’s a heat check, let him go a little bit”. It wasn’t just today. He showed it in camp. He’s comfortable on the perimeter and the post, not afraid to bang out there. Any time you can stretch a big and hit shots, that’s huge.”

Doug McDermott scored 20 and Ramon Galloway added 17 with nine assists in 32 minutes, but for the opener all eyes were on Portis, who didn’t disappoint.

Report: Bulls will sign Summer League standout Antonio Blakeney to two-year deal

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USA TODAY

Report: Bulls will sign Summer League standout Antonio Blakeney to two-year deal

Antonio Blakeney's past 12 months have landed him a permanent spot on the Bulls, according to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania.

The signing comes as little surprise for a number of reasons, beginning with Blakeney's play.

He was named the G-League Rookie of the Year after averaging 32.0 points per game for the Windy City Bulls last season. He then fared well alonside Wendell Carter Jr. in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 21.0 points on 40 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five games.

Blakeney, playing on a two-way contract, had a cup of coffee with the Bulls in 2017, averaging 7.9 points on 37 percent shooting in 19 games. He scored a career-high 16 points on two different occasions.

He'll likely take the spot left vacant by wing David Nwaba, a player whose qualifying offer from the Bulls was rescinded in order to free up more cap space to sign Jabari Parker.

Blakeney will battle with Denzel Valentine, Justin Holiday and Chandler Hutchison for minutes on the second unit.

Jabari Parker defends Derrick Rose's legacy in introductory press conference: 'A legend, no matter what'

Jabari Parker defends Derrick Rose's legacy in introductory press conference: 'A legend, no matter what'

Chicago basketball is a brotherhood. Jabari Parker made that much clear during his introductory press conference on Wednesday at the United Center atrium.

When asked by a reporter about what the Chicago native and Simeon alum thought about the "rise and fall" of Derrick Rose's NBA career, Parker took a hard stance defending the former league MVP.

"Derrick had no lows. He didn't, because he still maintained. Derrick is a legend, no matter. I don't like how you explained that," Parker said.

"Injuries is a part of life. Everybody has an injury, either athletics or normal life. But Derrick is one of the best players to ever play the game and one of the best icons in Chicago. So, he accomplished his duty already."

Parker and Rose have more than just Simeon basketball and a Chicago upbringing in common. Both suffered multiple knee injuries early in their careers - Rose's infamous ACL tear in the 2012 playoffs and subsequent MCL tears; Parker tore his ACL in both his rookie and third NBA seasons with the Bucks. - and battled back through them.

And now they both have ties to the Bulls.

Last week Parker agreed to a two-year, $40 million deal with his hometown team. He'll join a young core including Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Wendell Carter Jr. as the Bulls enter Year 2 of their rebuild.

Parker wasn't the only one to stick up for Rose.