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updated: 3/19/2017 8:20 PM

Portis just wants to be himself on the court

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  • Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis reacts after scoring a basket against the Utah Jazz during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-86.

    Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis reacts after scoring a basket against the Utah Jazz during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-86.

 
 

Bobby Portis' last college game at Arkansas was a second-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to North Carolina. So he was looking forward to watching Sunday's rematch.

"I'll have my jersey on. I'll be sitting on my couch watching the game," Portis said after Saturday's win over Utah. "It will be like I'm still playing and I'll be going crazy by myself. It's practically the same team I played with in college."

It didn't sound like Portis is longing for his college days, but it has been a challenge navigating the NBA world.

After a few quiet games, Portis was pulled from the starting lineup in favor of Nikola Mirotic for Saturday's game against the Jazz. He responded by scoring a career-high 22 points as the Bulls pulled off a 95-86 victory.

Portis tried to take the lineup change in stride, but he didn't think he had been playing his best. In the previous six games, Portis averaged 7.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and shot 39 percent.

"I feel like the last couple games, I was just kind of hesitant to shoot," he said. "I've got to get that out of my system. I've got to, when the shot is available, just take it. I worry too much about shooting too much.

"(That's) probably just thinking too much and not playing the game the way the game is supposed to be played. The game says shoot, shoot. The game say pass, pass. That what I was always taught."

Like all of the young Bulls, Portis is struggling to find some consistency. At his best, he can be a valuable asset. Portis is a little undersized for a power forward, but his scoring skills can make him a tough matchup.

Portis' scoring was at a peak Saturday. He knocked down his first six shots of the night and finished 10 for 13 from the field. A young lineup provided a nice finishing kick, for a change, as coach Fred Hoiberg used Portis, Michael Carter-Williams, Denzel Valentine and Joffrey Lauvergne with Jimmy Butler for much of the fourth quarter.

"I like starting, so I just tried to play with a chip on my shoulder," Portis said. "At the same time, be myself for a change. I don't feel like I lost my (starting) spot. I just felt like my team needed a change. When a team loses, a team needs to change up things."

Hoiberg said after the game he'll plan to start the same way, with Portis coming off the bench, when the Bulls play in Toronto on Tuesday.

Having so many young guys on the roster has created some struggles for the Bulls, but it's been a good social situation for Portis and the others.

"Last year I was the youngest guy and I didn't really have a guy in my range to hang out with," Portis said. "Obviously, this year there's a lot of guys around the same age, so we just try to stay together. We hang out a lot. We go over to each other's house and play cards a lot. We have a great bond together. That's been the biggest thing with us, hanging out on and off the court. That's made this a really special group."

Asked where the crowd tends to gather, Portis said it's all about who has the food.

"It depends on what day it is. Most of the time, we go over to Isaiah (Canaan's) house and eat all his food up," he said. "His girlfriend cooks a lot. I don't really want to buy any food. It helps out a lot. Also, Jerian (Grant) likes to cook a little bit too. That's what he says. He's never really prepared us anything."

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