Portis returns, can't lift Bulls

Posted: November 8, 2017 at 2:30 a.m.

RAPTORS 119, BULLS 114

TORONTO -- Former Arkansas Razorback Bobby Portis gave the Chicago Bulls a massive boost Tuesday night, but they needed more than his fresh legs to beat the Toronto Raptors.

Portis, back from an eight-game suspension for punching teammate Nikola Mirotic during a practice altercation Oct. 17, made his season debut and finished with a team-high 21 points (8-for-13 shooting), 12 rebounds and 4 assists. His plus-10 led the team.

Portis helped the Bulls rally from 23 points down and make a game of it in the fourth quarter. His late hook over Kyle Lowry cut the Raptors' lead to three.

But the Raptors eked out a 119-114 victory, dropping the Bulls to 2-7.

The Bulls outscored the Raptors 33-21 in the fourth quarter.

Robin Lopez hit 10 of 11 from the field. But the rest of the starters shot 9 for 29.

The Bulls' last chance came on Lauri Markkanen's open three-point try. It missed, and Portis' tip-in was nullified by basket interference.

"Bobby gave us a great lift," Coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He played with great emotion and gave us energy when we needed it."

The Bulls trailed 65-45 at the half, prompting Hoiberg to light up his players.

"We completely laid an egg in that first half," he said. "The effort defensively was awful. The body language sucked. Guys weren't talking to each other. We just shut down.

"Second half, we played the way we should. We guarded better and, offensively, the thing was really moving. It shouldn't take me ripping their a** at halftime to come out and play with that type of effort and intensity. It has to be 48 minutes if we want any chance of winning games."

Everyone expected Portis to be rusty, but the third-year pro was strong all night, stroking threes and grabbing rebounds.

"Surprised? No," he replied regarding his performance. "I put a lot of work in over the summer. I respect the game and my mom told me: If you rebound the basketball, the basketball gods will reward you. I've always lived by that.

"I was itching to play for so long. Sitting at home, watching my teammates play. It felt like my first college game, when I was at Arkansas."

Portis was bouncy an hour before tipoff, fired up for his first action of the season.

"I've been anxious, real anxious, real giddy all day," Portis said. "Didn't sleep last night, didn't sleep today, couldn't nap. I'm just ready to play ball."

That he did.

Mirotic, meanwhile, remains far from the scene. There's no timetable for his return from several facial fractures. His camp has indicated he can't co-exist with Portis, so there's no certainty Mirotic will return at all.

Hoiberg, though, said Mirotic is increasing his physical activity each day and just had "his best day in the weight room."

Portis said he attempted to contact Mirotic shortly after the incident but has not tried since.

"Nah, I just let bygones be bygones," Portis said. "I don't have control over that. The only thing I can control is myself at this point. I'm not worried about who goes, who stays. The only thing I'm worried about is coming in here and trying to play at the highest level possible. I'm living my dream right now. This is my dream and I've always wanted to play in the NBA. I'm here and that's all I want to do."

In other NBA games Tuesday night, Kevin Love scored a season-high 32 points, LeBron James added 30 and the Cleveland Cavaliers withstood a 40-point performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-119. … Anthony Davis had 37 points and 14 rebounds, Demarcus Cousins added 32 points and 13 boards, and the New Orleans Pelicans rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 117-112. … Harrison Barnes scored 31 points, rookie Dennis Smith Jr. had 22 and the Dallas Mavericks snapped a six-game losing streak with a 113-99 victory over John Wall and the Washington Wizards. … Kristaps Porzingis scored 28 points, including a tiebreaking three-pointer with 1:48 remaining, and the New York Knicks beat the Charlotte Hornets 118-113 for their third consecutive victory. … LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points, and the San Antonio Spurs made a season-high 15 three-pointers to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-107. … Nikola Jokic had a career-high 41 points, Will Barton and Paul Millsap scored 17 apiece and the Denver Nuggets beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-104. … Dario Saric scored a season-high 25 points and the Philadelphia 76ers won their fifth consecutive game with a 104-97 victory over the Utah Jazz. … Zach Randolph scored each of his 18 points in the second half, Buddy Hield had 21 points and the Sacramento Kings rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 94-86. … Tyreke Evans scored 21 points off the bench, Mike Conley had 20 — all in the second half — and the Memphis Grizzlies held off the Portland Trail Blazers 98-97.

Sports on 11/08/2017