The Chicago Bulls beat the Portland Trail Blazers 93-88 mainly behind the excellent backcourt defense of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, an excellent duo on both ends of the floor, and probably the two that hold the key to a successful season for the Bulls.
Rose scored 17 points that went with 6 assists on a rough shooting night for him (7-of-20 from the field) and for the Bulls in general, hitting just 38.4% of their shots. But his defense on Damian Lillard didn’t go unnoticed, with the Blazers star finishing with 4-of-22 from the field and scored 19 points thanks to his 11-of-13 from the line, missing a triple double by two assists. C.J. McCollum scored 18 points to help out, but without Meyers Leonard, the frontcourt seemed vastly inferior against Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol.
Butler scored 22 points to lead the Bulls with a perfect 8-for-8 from the line, as the Bulls make it to 9-4, winning five of their last six and two of their three on the Western road trip. Their only loss came against the Warriors, a game they made close for about three quarters before, like everyone else, lost touch with the best team in the NBA. Not having Mike Dunleavy, who is getting closer to his return, wasn’t a good enough excuse, although it might explain their inconsistencies on a number of offensive aspects so far this season.
Butler got a technical foul for reacting to a hard foul by Mason Plumlee in the fourth quarter. Butler later said he’d like Plumlee to pay his fine for the technical foul, although after the huge contract he signed in the offseason, he shouldn’t have any problems with finding the money for it. Winning in Portland, one of those classic hot & cold teams this season completely reliant on the day their guards are having, was about looking solid in the front court but winning the backcourt battle. Rose playing 35 minutes and looking comfortable was encouraging, and hopefully in a few weeks or maybe a bit more it won’t even be worth mentioning anymore.