Bulls' comeback bid falls short, drop second-straight to Blazers

944497.png

Bulls' comeback bid falls short, drop second-straight to Blazers

PORTLAND If once is anomaly, is twice the start of a trend? For the second straight game, the Bulls (5-5) were given a taste of their own medicine and while Sundays 102-94 loss to the Trail Blazers (5-5) at the Rose Garden wasnt the blowout defeat the team suffered Saturday in Los Angeles, the lack of urgency, especially against an inexperienced young squad with inferior talent hints at deeper issues.

After an embarrassing loss the previous evening, the Bulls were locked in at the outset of the contest, as both Joakim Noah (16 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists) and Rip Hamilton (15 points) had their mid-range games clicking early on, helping the visitors build a slim cushion.

For the hosts, LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 13 rebounds)a former Bulls draft pick, though he was traded for the eventually-jettisoned Tyrus Thomasjustified his All-Star status early with his combination of finesse and interior play, while fellow big man J.J. Hicksons high activity level also made an impact and star rookie Damian Lillard (16 points) showed flashes of his tremendous ability.

However, the Bulls were focused on both strong defense and getting quality shotsthey shot nearly 62 percent from the floor in the opening quarterand with Noah displaying his all-around game as a scorer, passer and rebounder, not to mention a balanced effort that saw seven of the eight players who received playing time get on the board, the Blazers found themselves on their heels. After a period of play, the Bulls led, 30-23.

Portland started the second quarter with a 6-0 run to quickly narrow the gap, prompting a Bulls timeout, though not much changed afterwards, as they reverted to their ways from the night before, as ball security once again was an issue. So was point production, as the guests experienced one of their periodic offensive droughts, with the second unit, aside from backup point guard Nate Robinson (18 points), and the Blazers capitalized with Aldridges continued domination, as well as contributions from swingman Wesley Matthews (21 points), to overtake their opponents.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau eventually reinserted his regulars, with the exception of reserve swingman Jimmy Butler, but the turnover issues and inefficient offense persisted, allowing Portland to gain some separation.

Having lost all momentum and simply being out of sync on both ends, at the intermission, the Bulls trailed, 51-43, following a last-second layup by Lillard before the halftime buzzer.

Typically, the Bulls, whether instantaneously or in a more gradual process, adjust their mindset and overall approach during the break, coming back with a more focused effort, regardless of the results. That didnt occur in the third quarter, as they continually permitted the Blazers open looks, settled for contested jumpers and perhaps most disturbingly, didnt display the hustle thats defined this team during Thibodeaus tenure, particularly in defensive transition.

Swingman Nicolas Batum (21 points) took over the hot hand for Portland in the period, knocking down a trio of shots from long range, while Lillard, an early-season Rookie of the Year candidate, resumed his consistent play.

As the period waned on, however, the Bulls managed to trim the deficit behind Hamilton, Noah and later, energetic subs Butler and Taj Gibson (11 points), who had been struggling as of late, and heading into the final stanza, the visitors were behind by a more manageable 73-68 score.

Gibsons energetic play carried over to the fourth quarter and sparked by his hustle and toughness, as well as solid play from Noah and Luol Deng (14 points, seven rebounds), the Bulls knotted up the contest early in the period. But Portland countered with an 8-0 run to acquire some breathing rooman extended 12-2 spurt gave the hosts a double-digit edgeto make the contest a continued uphill battle for its guests.

Down the stretch, Robinson was the Bulls offensive catalyst, but as admirable as the effort of the diminutive scorer was, the visitors simply couldnt get over the hump, with the Blazers seemingly getting to every key loose ball and rising to the occasion late.

To put a nail in the Bulls coffin, Matthews, Butlers college teammate at Marquette took it upon himself with an array of jumpers and hustle plays to cement the home teams victory and while their guests, led by Robinson, would make an inspired last-gasp comeback in the games final minute, it was too little, too late.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Saad Father II

brandon_saad.jpg
AP

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Saad Father II

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, CSN's Pat Boyle goes 1-on-1 with Brandon Saad.

The two-time Stanley Cup Champion discusses the disappointment of getting traded just two weeks after winning the Cup in 2015, plus what’s the biggest difference between Joel Quenneville and his former Columbus coach, John Tortorella?

Saad also breaks down some of his favorite moments from his first stint with the Blackhawks, getting engaged, similarities between the Penguins and Blackhawks and of all his nicknames, which one is his favorite?

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below:

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk rips Lackey, Swarzak traded, Coop misses Q

moncada-725.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk rips Lackey, Swarzak traded, Coop misses Q

After a wild day at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, Chuck Garfien and Dan Hayes discuss John Lackey hitting four White Sox batters and also play Hawk Harrelson's epic on-air rant directed at the Cubs pitcher.

"Jeff the Sox Fan" appears on the podcast and suggests what he thinks Jose Abreu should have done to Lackey when he was hit for a second time.

While they taped the podcast, Anthony Swarzak was traded to the Brewers. What kind of return did the White Sox get? Garfien also interviews White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper about losing Quintana to the Cubs, why he can't watch Quintana and Chris Sale pitch in different uniform, when some minor leaguers like Reynaldo Lopez will be called up and more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: