Portis back on sideline as Bulls lose seventh straight
The Bulls' bounce-back abilities were put to the test Saturday, when they had to come back and play the second leg of a back-to-back in Utah after getting waxed by the Golden State Warriors.
They gave a better effort against the Jazz, but faded late and lost 110-102 at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Bulls' losing streak hit seven straight, with two games left on this road trip.
The Bulls led 89-88 with 7:56 left after a Lauri Makkanen jumper. But they missed their next six shots and fell behind by 8. Zach LaVine's 3-point play brought the Bulls within 97-92 with 4:12 left. This time, the Bulls missed three more shots and eventually a Joe Ingles 3-pointer put Utah in command at 105-92.
LaVine led the Bulls with 21 points, while Markkanen had 16. With Bobby Portis out, Jabari Parker returned to the court and delivered 11 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes. Newcomer Wayne Selden also had 11 points. Donovan Mitchell poured in 34 for Utah (22-21).
There was some relevant news before the game started. The Bulls reportedly reworked the contract of coach Jim Boylen, who was promoted to the head job when Fred Hoiberg was fired on Dec. 3.
According to ESPN, Boylen's salary will essentially double next season to $1.6 million, but only $1 million is guaranteed. The Bulls were clearly looking for some financial flexibility if they decide not to retain Boylen next season, since the team already owes Hoiberg $5 million for the final year of his contract.
The timing seemed odd on the heels of a 37-point loss at Golden State, but this move had been expected since the Bulls did not put an interim title on Boylen and executive vice president John Paxson said he hoped Boylen would continue into next season. This deal was likely in the works long before Saturday.
Portis was back on the sideline for Saturday's game and he accused Golden State's Kevin Durant of intentionally trying to injure him. In the third quarter, Durant and Portis were battling for position away from the ball when Durant struck Portis in the chest and apparently yanked his right arm.
Portis staggered over to the bench area and sat down in a sideline seat in obvious pain while play continued. When Portis returned to the court, he and Durant began jawing and had to be separated. Both players were shortly hit with technical fouls while Portis shot free throws.
No one expected Chciago to beat Golden State, but the Bulls wanted to show some progress.
It didn't happen. Thompson knocked down 3-pointers on the Warriors' first three possessions and the Bulls trailed 43-17 at the end of one, the largest first-quarter deficit in franchise history.
"I'm a competitor, man," LaVine said after the game, according to bulls.com. "I like playing (in Golden State) because it's competition. You like going up against these dudes. But it's frustrating when you get to the fourth quarter and you're down like that.
"We're at the bottom of the totem pole and we're trying to climb our way up. It's just not easy. You have to take some bumps and bruises. You're going to have ups and downs. … We have to dig our way out of it, fight our way out and I think we can do it."