The Chicago Bulls will look to build upon an amazing last-second victory when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Chicago is coming off a wild 116-115 win over the Charlotte Hornets in which it erased an eight-point deficit in the last 48 seconds. Zach LaVine scored the go-ahead basket with a desperation 3-pointer, after a steal, with 0.8 seconds left, giving him a career-high 49 points.
The improbable victory boosted the mood among Bulls players, who had lost four of their previous five contests. Tensions ran high after coach Jim Boylen benched LaVine one game earlier, but the two have spoken about the decision and insist that they are on the same page heading into Monday.
“I let him know how I felt,” LaVine said to reporters. “I don’t want it to get bigger than that. … We’re not going to try to drag this out. We had a misunderstanding. We still have a lot of things to work out as a team. We all have to be accountable for our actions, so I think that’s where we’re at.”
Meanwhile, Portland is looking to snap a four-game skid that has seen the team lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets, all since Monday. The Trail Blazers have lost six of seven and 10 of 12 to slip to 5-12.
Damian Lillard leads Portland with 28.3 points and 7.2 assists per game, but he has been bothered by nagging back problems. Lillard scored 23 points his in his most recent game but shot only 7 of 20 from the field.
“I don’t know how much he was laboring,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “Obviously, he didn’t have the same pop, but all said and done, it was a good effort.”
Other injuries also have sapped Portland’s depth this season, particularly in the paint. Jusuf Nurkic (broken leg) and Zach Collins (dislocated left shoulder) have been out for extended periods, and Hassan Whiteside (hip) sat out Saturday against Cleveland.
By comparison, the Bulls are in better shape in terms of health. They remain without veteran forward Otto Porter Jr. (left foot sprain) and bench contributor Luke Kornet (sinus surgery), and the status of second-year forward Chandler Hutchison (shin) is uncertain for Monday.
LaVine leads the Bulls with 21.2 points per game. Rookie point guard Coby White is second on the team with 13.9 points per game, while Lauri Markkanen (13.8) and Wendell Carter Jr. (12.8) round out the top four.
After Lillard, the Trail Blazers’ top scorers include CJ McCollum (22.2), Whiteside (14.9) and recent addition Carmelo Anthony (13.0), who has played three games. The 35-year-old Anthony has appeared in 39 career games against the Bulls and has averaged 25.2 points in those contests.
Anthony said he was grateful play alongside Lillard.
“That was one of the reasons why I actually wanted to come here, and Portland wanted me here as well, just to have the opportunity to be on the court with ‘Dame,’ CJ and those guys,” Anthony told reporters.
Chicago is 3-6 at home. Portland is 4-8 on the road.
This is the first meeting between the teams since March 17, when the Trail Blazers dominated the Bulls for a 118-98 win.
–Field Level Media