PORTLAND – Just as they did on Monday, it looked as if a strong start to a game against a Western Conference opponent would lead to a comfortable victory.
Instead, the thing that plagued the Bulls in the first game of their Western Conference road trip would cost them in their fourth, with the hosts happy to take advantage of their miscues.
Up by 15 points at halftime over the Trail Blazers in Portland, the Bulls had ten turnovers in the third quarter to trim their advantage. Then Damian Lillard scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead free throws with 1:05 to go, help the Blazers to a 112-105 victory.
It’s the second loss for the Bulls of their five-game road trip, similar to their loss Friday to the Warriors where turnovers stifled them in an eventual blowout. The defeat puts them at 10-5 on the year as they look to finish the road trip over .500 when they face the Nuggets on Friday night in Denver.
Lillard had 16 of his team-high 22 points in the second half which coincided with the Bulls’ fade, though it wasn’t until the final minute when Portland took over. Zach LaVine, who led all scorers with 30 points, hit a three-pointer with two minutes to go then a layup 40 seconds to go to give the Bulls a 107-106 lead.
On the next possession, Lillard gave the Blazers the lead back with a pair of free throws, and the visitors would have no response on the offensive end. The team’s last four possessions ended without a point as Portland hit four free throws to seal the game.
This erased a strong start to the game by the Bulls who shot 56.5 percent from the floor in the first half and hit eight three-pointers to build as much as a 20-point lead in the first half. LaVine led the way with 18 points while DeRozan had 15, but the team cooled in the second half as they hit just 35.1 percent of their shots from the floor while struggling with turnovers.
It denied the team a shot for a winning road trip in one of their more forgettable finishes in what’s been a strong start to the 2021-2022 season.