Zach LaVine buries Blazers in furious comeback, 111-108

by Kevin Nesgoda

PORTLAND, OR — While they took a while to show up, the Chicago Bulls came to play. After going down 20 in the first half, the young Bulls surged back to earn a close three-point win in Portland.

Photo by Bruce Ely via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Photo by Bruce Ely via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Starting Lineups

Chicago: Coby White, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Patrick Williams, Wendell Carter Jr.

Portland: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Jusuf Nurkic

Game Recap

First Quarter

The Blazers opened things up early, going 4/4 from behind the arc on their first four possessions, including two from Dame (who’s quietly averaging 26 PPG so far this season).

A Nurkic offensive board drew Carter Jr.’s second foul of the game less than four minutes in before RoCo sent one back with two hands.

The Blazers came out of the first timeout and hit more back-to-back threes, this time from CJ and DJJ. If the Blazers shoot like this every night, Charles Barkley will be a rich(er) man.

Portland’s 39 first quarter points and eight threes were both season highs.

Second Quarter

Big CJ and Gary threes and an even bigger DJJ dunk set the tone for the second quarter. Covington hit his third three in as many tries.

The Blazers leapt to a 20-point lead, but the Bulls clawed their way back before Dame & Co. came back in. The lead was cut to seven with three minutes remaining.

Portland shot 40.8% from the field and 44% from three in the first half, while Chicago was held to just 36.2% and 30%, respectively.

Third Quarter

Both teams came out hot to start the second half, and Derrick Jones Jr. flew high for a steep dunk.

LaVine’s pull-up three cut the lead to five, but RoCo and CJ answered with back-to-back triples of their own. LaVine hit back with another one off a quick screen.

Dame started heating up for Portland and put his name in yet another record book in the process.

Portland pulled themselves back up with some exciting shooting, including Melo waiting for ages before CJ assisted him on a fast break.

Still, the Bulls made a quick run at the end of the quarter to eventually pull within four. Their 6/8 three-point shooting fueled the comeback, giving fans a reason to tune in nervously for the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Harry Giles checked in for the first time with 9:51 on the clock as Enes Kanter went to the bench with a hand injury.

Gary Trent had a nice drive and take between three bodies to draw a foul, showing he can be more than just a spot-up guy on offense.

Every time the Blazers looked like they could spring a run, Chicago would come right back down the court and score. A bad pass from CJ led to two fast break points for Chicago, forcing a timeout.

A Garrett Temple three gave the Bulls a two-point lead, but CJ and Melo answered to earn Portlanders some free McNuggets. Zach LaVine’s back-to-back bricks ensured Portland’s poor three-point defense went unpunished.

Wendell Carter was fouled by Nurk going up, but Carter’s follow-through made clean contact with RoCo’s face on the way down. While it was clearly unintentional, Covington needed a minute to get up.

With three minutes left, the Bulls held a four-point lead. The Blazers proceeded to play flat for the next two possessions before Dame drew an and-one. It was foolishly called back, but Lillard drew and sank a three-shot foul anyways to stay within three.

Down three, Thaddeus Young passed up a wide open midrange attempt and bulldozed RoCo in the lane for a charging foul.

On the other end, Dame somehow kept his dribble while getting trampled to earn a trip to the line, where he pulled the Blazers within a single point with 30 seconds remaining.

Then Zach LaVine ended the game. The seventh-year guard from Bothell, Washington drained a deep three over Derrick Jones Jr. to snag a two-score advantage with 10.7 seconds left.

Dame hit a long three of his own with 5.7 seconds to go before Coby White hit two free throws to go back up three.

Late in the five-second count, Melo got the inbounds pass and chucked up a turnaround three. It bounced off the rim and out of bounds on the baseline with a second still remaining.

Final Thoughts

New players, new season, same old Blazers. Portland just couldn’t take themselves seriously enough to close out the game. More concerning than the perimeter defense, which is still a big concern, the Blazers were missing open shots that could have put this game to rest so much sooner. Also, Terry Stotts and the boys let a depleted Chicago rotation come back from down 20 to beat a supposed Finals contender at home. The second rotation is still not there.

Player(s) of the Game

CJ McCollum continued his hot start to the season with 26 points on 10/21 shooting, including 6/14 from behind the arc. Still, it’ll take more than one or two major contributions to make any sort of deep run (as us Blazers fans already understand).

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