Will Bulls regret dealing away Bobby Portis?
There was an amusing sidebar after the Bulls lost to the Knicks on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
New York lost back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday to Brooklyn and Boston, then Knicks coach David Fizdale scheduled a practice for Sunday.
Practicing the day after back-to-back games is practically unheard of in the NBA these days and brought back memories of Jim Boylen's first week as head coach of the Bulls. Boylen did the same thing -- Sunday practice after back-to-back games -- and it became the national controversy of the day. The Bulls ended up having a team meeting to clear the air instead of practice.
The Knicks just showed up and practiced, apparently, then beat the Bulls 105-98, finishing the game on a 15-0 run to snag their first victory this season.
"Coach Fiz was on our tails (Sunday)," Knicks forward Bobby Portis said after the game, according to the New York Daily News. "We were supposed to have an off-day when you have a back-to-back, but we didn't have an off-day. We came in and still put the work in. He emphasized us playing harder, getting back on defense, just trying to pack the paint. I thought our team did a good job of that tonight and it was fun getting a win."
Portis was the star of the game, finishing with 28 points and 11 rebounds. He went 4-for-4 from 3-point range, including two in a row that put the Knicks ahead for good.
Of course, he was drafted by the Bulls in 2013 and was on the team until getting traded with Jabari Parker to Washington last Feb. 6 for Otto Porter Jr. Portis was holding back tears as he left the United Center that night.
On Monday, Portis was the toast of MSG. Fans chanted his name as the Knicks finished off the Bulls, who had led by as many as 18 points.
"That's actually the first time that's ever happened (in the pros)," he said. "When I was in high school and college, it was different. When I got to the pros, it was never about me. I've always been a role player type of guy. Just team mentality type of guy. So to hear them chanting my name for the first time was fun."
Portis said he doesn't carry bitter feelings toward the Bulls anymore, but that's debatable.
"He was juiced about this game as a soon as he came to New York," Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. said after the game. "He put all on social media, 'Looking forward to playing you, Chicago Bulls.' We all knew that he was very excited, very juiced for this game. He definitely played a great game but we kind of just played into their hands. We gave them the game down the stretch."
It remains to be seen if the Bulls will regret trading Portis. He had plenty of big games like this when he played in Chicago, but also had a tendency to slide into lulls for weeks at a time, barely producing any stats.
The bigger concern for the Bulls right now is figuring out how to get more out of Porter. The team's highest-paid player is averaging 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and shooting 26.5 percent from the field through four games.
Even while the Bulls held a comfortable lead for most of Monday's game, their offense lacked movement. Their emphasis on 3-point shooting seems to have created too many possessions where four guys stand around at the 3-point line waiting for the player with the ball to create something.
The Bulls rank in the bottom five in the league in assists, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Against the Knicks, they were outrebounded 63-38.
On opening night, the Bulls squandered a 10-point lead in the final six minutes and lost at Charlotte. On Monday, it was an 8-point lead with 3:33 left that disappeared.
"To me it's more about getting stops and we didn't get enough stops down the stretch," Boylen said after the game. "I thought (the Knicks) put some of their tougher guys in down the stretch.
"That's where we have to grow. We've got to embrace those moments when your physicality wins the game, maybe not your skill level or your talent level. That's what I've got to coach and that's what we've got to do better."
Bulls game dayBulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Wednesday 6 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena
TV: NBCSCH; Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: There's a mix of old and new on the Cavaliers roster. C Tristan Thompson (19.3 points, 12.3 rebounds) and PF Kevin Love (15.7 points, 15.7 rebounds) are still around from the Finals years, joined by a young backcourt of Collin Sexton (17.3 ppg) and rookie Darius Garland (9.7 ppg). ... Head coach John Beilein, an NBA rookie at age 66, got his first win last week when the Cavs beat Indiana at home 110-99. ... The Bulls won three of four against the Cavs last season, including both games in Cleveland.
Next: Detroit Pistons on Friday 7 p.m. at the United Center
-- Mike McGraw