McCollum, Blazers start fast and bury short-handed Chicago Bulls
Video evidence suggested the Chicago Bulls flew on an airplane to Portland. But a visual evaluation inside the Moda Center late Wednesday night indicated they rode the tank to Oregon.
The short-handed Bulls were buried early and blistered by Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, who scored 50 points in just 29 minutes and Portland rolled past the Bulls 124-108.
The Bulls already were missing Lauri Markkanen (personal reasons) and Kris Dunn (concussion), then decided to shut down Nikola Mirotic until he's traded or the trade deadline passes Feb. 8.
Portland has been hot, so this game had the potential to get ugly, and it didn't take long. The Blazers jumped ahead 23-2 and then stretched the lead to 35-8. The final score is as close as it got after that.
McCollum scored 28 points in the opening 12 minutes. That's the most points ever scored by a Bulls opponent in a quarter, the most in Blazers history and the most by an NBA player this season.
The NBA record for points in a quarter is 37, set by Golden State's Klay Thompson in 2015.
McCollum scored just about every way possible -- jumpers, drives, but just 2 free throws. He hit 11 of 14 shots overall in the first quarter and 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
Late in the quarter, coach Fred Hoiberg sent defensive stopper David Nwaba out to check McCollum, and even he couldn't slow the point parade. Two weeks ago, Nwaba didn't give up a point while guarding Golden State's Steph Curry.
McCollum became the first player to score 50 points against the Bulls since Milwaukee's Michael Redd scored 52 in 2007.
A high draft pick would be helpful to the Bulls' rebuilding project, so it wouldn't be surprising if Markkanen and Dunn miss all three games on this road trip. With the loss, the Bulls' record dropped to 18-33, currently sixth worst in the league, and they aren't that far ahead of last-place Atlanta (15-36).
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 23 points, finding his shooting touch after a couple of bad games.
Antonio Blakeney saw his first action with the Bulls since Dec. 1. The shooting guard is the G-League's top scorer at 29.2 points per game. Denzel Valentine added 15 points, while Cristiano Felicio scored 12.