Portis impressive in return, but Bulls lose to Raptors
TORONTO — Bobby Portis showed what he can bring to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.
In his first game of the season after sitting out an eight-game suspension for slugging a teammate during a practice, Portis led the Bulls with 21 points and 13 rebounds after coming off the bench with 6:14 to play in the first quarter.
It was not enough, however, as the Bulls could not overcome a listless first half in a 119-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
“Bobby Portis gave us a great lift out there,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He played with great emotion and went out there and gave us energy when we needed it.”
Portis was suspended by the team after punching Nikola Mirotic during practice on Oct. 17, two days before the season began. Mirotic is still out with two facial fractures.
“I was just letting the game come to me,” Portis said. “I had great support from teammates, the coaching staff and family through the whole process. I tried to stay off the social media and tried to go out there and play the best that I could and have fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve played the game of basketball, so I just went out there and gave my all.”
Jonas Valanciunas scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan added 24 points for the Raptors, who led by as many as 23 points before Portis cut the lead to three points with a basket in the final minute.
DeRozan then hit a jumper to increase the margin to five.
“The hardest thing to do in this league is to hold a lead,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “When you get a big lead, you think the game is over and you turn it off mentally, and that’s exactly what we did tonight.”
Kyle Lowry chipped in with 17 points, six assists and six rebounds for the Raptors (6-4), and Serge Ibaka had 16 points.
“I categorize this game tonight as a ‘win is a win,’” Lowry said. “It wasn’t how we wanted to close it out, but a win is a win. The offense is getting better, we are just continuing to grow, and we will continue to get better at it.”
Robin Lopez added 20 points for the Bulls (2-7). Justin Holiday contributed 15 points, Denzel Valentine 14, Lauri Markkanen 12 and Kris Dunn 10 for Chicago.
It was the second meeting of the season between the teams. The Raptors won the season opener 117-100 on Oct. 19, also at the Air Canada Centre, when Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds.
“I’m not going to stop being myself,” Portis said. “I’m always going to try to be myself in every situation I’m in. I was ready, I didn’t even sleep last night. I was giddy before the game. I had my dream taken away from me for three weeks. I don’t want my dream taken away from me anymore.”
The Raptors led 29-26 after the first quarter, paced by 11 points and five rebounds from Valanciunas.
Ibaka scored two straight baskets to give the Raptors a 55-41 lead with 3:02 to play in the second quarter.
The Raptors led 65-45 at halftime, shooting 58.5 percent from the field while the Bulls shot 42.5 percent.
Hoiberg blasted his team during the intermission.
“We all kind of knew it,” Lopez said. “That effort is not going to cut it, especially defensively. We’ve been pretty good defensively so far this season, and when you have a performance like that, it’s a big step backward.”
Valanciunas had 16 points and eight rebounds and Lowry scored 11 points in the first half.
Lopez led the Bulls with 10 first-half points.
A fadeaway jumper by Valanciunas had the Raptors ahead by 23 points with 8:11 to play in the third quarter.
Toronto had a 98-81 lead after three quarters.
When Portis made a 3-pointer and a layup, the Bulls had trimmed the lead to 13 with 7:20 to play.
“I thought (Portis) gave us a lot of energy on both ends of the floor,” Lopez said. “I thought he was huge for us.”
Holiday completed a three-point play with a free throw to trim with lead to eight with 4:35 to play.
Overall, Toronto outshot Chicago 54.3 percent to 49.4 percent.
“I think we just got comfortable playing with the lead,” DeRozan said. “You have to go thinking it’s 0-0, that it’s a close game and try to close it out.”
NOTES: Bulls G David Nwaba (sprained right ankle) will be out for two to four weeks. ... Chicago G Antonio Blakeney was recalled from the Windy City Bulls of the G League, but he did not play Tuesday. ... Bulls F Nikola Mirotic (facial fractures) will be out a few more weeks after being punched by F Bobby Portis during practice on Oct. 17. ... The Raptors will be home to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. The Bulls will host the Indiana Pacers on Friday.