Home Portland Trail Blazers Portland Trail Blazers hold off feisty Chicago Bulls, 107-103

Portland Trail Blazers hold off feisty Chicago Bulls, 107-103

The Portland Trail Blazers are starting to click a little bit. Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside are starting to click together in the high pick and roll. Carmelo Anthony is moving the ball as he has never done in his career. CJ McCollum and Rodney Hood (#2 in the league in three point shooting) have both been on fire lately too.

The Bulls were game and hung around all night thanks to Zach LaVine and Coby White. The Blazers closed out the Bulls thanks to strong fourth-quarter play of both Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony, plus a great defensive effort from Hassan Whiteside (new team record 10 blocks) and Portland defeated Chicago, 107-103

The Bulls started off hot, thanks to some great shooting by Tomas Satoransky and Zach LaVine. It seemed like it could be another one of those nights where the Blazers play down to an inferior opponent. Stotts called a quick timeout after the Bulls ran out to an 11-4 lead in the first three minutes of the game. After the timeout Melo added four quick points, Whiteside blocked three shots and the Blazers tied the game.

LaVine knocked down another three and Chicago pushed their lead back up to seven. The Bulls are shooting well from three tonight. Not that is different from any other team that plays Portland. CJ got fouled on a three point attempt and helped cut the Blazer deficit down to three, 28-25, at the end of the first period.

The last two games the Blazers had done a much better job at guarding the three, but tonight they regressed in the first quarter. Bulls were 4-8 in the quarter. The Bulls are not a great shooting team outside of LaVine, but sometimes the shots fall for other guys.

CJ ended the quarter hot and he starts the second hot as well. He hits a nice runner and then a three. The Blazers have their first lead of the night.

It looks like Stotts has stretched out Anthony. He’s progressively getting more minutes. The way he’s been playing over the last week the minutes are for sure earned.

This second quarter is a slugfest to start. Only ten total points have been scored in the first five minutes of the quarter.

Hassan Whiteside really has come to play tonight. He’s got six blocks in the first eighteen minutes of the game. He got his trash cans stolen on Thanksgiving and the thieves left his trash. He’s just taking his anger out on the Bulls now. I’d rather get my car stolen than the trash cans. It’ll take the county at least a month to get him some new ones.

The Blazers are only one of ten so far in the game from three. This would be close to a 20 point lead if they were shooting near their average.

The Blazers have started running mesh cuts with Melo and CJ/Dame at the top of the key, Rodney Hood also shows high on this too. This has created a lot of confusion for defenses. This instance leads to Melo getting a couple of free throws. The next time they run it leads to a drive and dish by Melo to Hood for a three.

The Chicago defense is not tracking Melo at all after a made basket. He’s beaten the entire Bulls defense down the floor on back to back plays. Lillard hit him both times for conversions. I have to say again how impressed I am with the changes Melo has made to his game. He’s the exact opposite of what he was in OKC and Houston the last couple of years. He’s cutting, he’s making quick decisions with the ball, he’s passing. He’s doing everything a late stage career guy should be doing.

Rodney Hood is on fire from three right now. He’s not hitting the rim. He’s barely hitting the net at this point.

Whiteside starts off the third quarter with his 7th block of the night and should have had his 8th on Satoransky a possession later, but the refs call his all-ball block a foul. He didn’t even get him with the body. Stotts should have broken his rule and challenged it. It would have been an easy reversal.

LaVine is keeping the Bulls in this game. He got the Bulls within a point before Dame, CJ and Melo took the Blazers on a 12-1 run. There was a pass from Melo to Skal Labissiere that I have never seen before. I’d describe it, but it’s better if you watch it.

In my 31 years of watching basketball, I’ve never seen that sort of pass.

It’s ridiculous how hot Rodney Hood is right now. The Blazers are looking for him in the corners and he’s knocking them all down. His jump shot is so pure right now.

The Blazers got ice cold after that shot went down. Chicago finished the thrid quarter on a 11-2 run. It would have been 11-0, but Damian Lillard got to the basket and scored a layup with 2.0 seconds left on the clock.

The Blazers have these stretches where they fall in love with long shots and get a little complacent on offense. They get hot and assume everything is going to drop. Not everything is going to drop and they play defense like they are up 30. They’ve only been up 30 this season once. The Blazers have only played two complete games so far in the fall of 2019. They need to stop acting like this is last year when they were the third best team in the West and a championship contender.

Coby White has been shooting really well in the second half. He’s the future point guard in Chicago and has been showing flashes lately. He had 28 points a week or so ago in Charlotte. He’s been a big part of the Bulls tying the game early in the fourth. Ten of his 13 have come in about a five minute stretch from the end of the third to the start of the fourth.

Carmelo Anthony seems stronger this year too. The way he creates separation by bodying his defender and how far they fall back after a little contact is shocking. Before Melo could get moved. This year he’s doing the moving. The way he cleared out Thaddeus Young with his head was something else. Dare we say that Melo is in the best shape of his life?

Anfernee Simons tried to dunk on the entire Bulls team and the first seven rows behind the basket at Moda Center. It did not go well.

Hassan Whiteside returns to the game and immediately picks up his eighth and ninth blocks (tying a team record) of the game. The ninth got outletted to Melo who knocked down another three. The Blazers now have some solid momentum. Can they close out the Bulls? This game feels like it should have been over an hour ago.

The Bulls are now choosing to double-team Carmelo Anthony and this is leaving Damian Lillard wide open. Then the next trip down the Bulls double-team Damian Lillard and Carmelo is left open.

The Blazers are scoring more, but so are the Bulls. They just will not go away. They got confidence early and it’s stayed and hung around.

The confidence was killed as Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony closed out the game.

Lillard led the Blazers with 28 points, Anthony had 23, CJ had 20 and Rodney Hood had 19 points. Whiteside was the only starter to not reach double digits in scoring. He did have 15 rebounds and 10 blocks.

Skal Labissiere, Nassir Little, Kent Bazemore, and Anfernee Simons combined for nine points off the bench tonight. That is going to need to be picked up.

Random Thoughts

  • Writing a recap after eating a bunch of leftovers is not smart. If there is a big chunk of information missing in the middle — I fell asleep and I apologize.
  • Rodney Hood should be in the three point shootout this year.
  • LaVine might be the only competent offensive player for the Bulls.
  • Coby White looks like he’s ready for a nap at any moment. Even when he’s excited it looks like he’s about to pass out.
  • Might need to get a pair of those tan Melo J’s.
  • I wish the league would bring back hand checking and push-offs.
  • Melo has played 36 minutes tonight and isn’t breaking a sweat.
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