The Chicago Bulls failed to earn a win on a three-game homestand and now find themselves staring down a five-game, west coast road trip. The Bulls will try to put up a fight when they begin the excursion by visiting the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Chicago, which visits Golden State, Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver on the rest of the trip, is trying to play a physical style under interim coach Jim Boylen and could not get enough stops in a 117-100 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. "We've just got to be tougher," Bulls guard Zach LaVine told reporters. "I think that's the main thing. We're going to miss defensive assignments. We're going to miss shots sometimes. But I think overall, we've got to be a tougher team. We have individual, tough players. But as a team we've got to be a lot tougher. That's the main thing I see right now." The Trail Blazers are winners of four of their last five games and reached the midpoint of their schedule with a 111-101 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday. "I like the fact that we've had a little bit of ups and downs already," Portland point guard Damian Lillard told reporters. "We've experienced some adversity early in the season and we got through it. We got to the midway point feeling good about ourselves."
TV: 10 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), NBCS Northwest (Portland) LINE: Blazers -9.5
ABOUT THE BULLS (10-30): Boylen wants the offense to work slowly and from the inside out, and Chicago attempted 18 3-pointers to the Nets' 46 on Sunday. "I know I can pick up the slack and shoot more and look to hunt some more threes," LaVine told reporters. "I've been good at getting into the paint and scoring that way. With Bobby (Portis) coming back, he hits a lot of threes off of pops and things like that. Lauri (Markkanen) hits threes. We have some 3-point shooters. I think we're taking less. We just have to hit more of them and then just be more efficient, get to the foul line more, get to the penalty early and stuff like that." LaVine led the Bulls with 27 points on Sunday while going 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (24-17): Portland is sitting in the top eight of a stacked Western Conference and is happy with the way it attacked the first half of the schedule. "You think you should probably go in and win every game, but with that being said, I think we had the toughest schedule in the league for the first 41 games and to come out 24-17, we're in a good place," coach Terry Stotts told reporters. "But it's a long season and there's not much you can do - you can't look back on it. It's a long season and every game is going to be competitive." The Trail Blazers are 2-1 on their five-game homestand and own a 16-7 record in their own arena.
1. Portis (ankle) returned from a seven-game absence on Sunday and scored 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench.
2. Trail Blazers C Jusuf Nurkic scored at least 20 points in each of the last three games.
3. Portland swept the two-game series last season and has taken three straight from Chicago.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 110, Bulls 98 Bet Now
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