Butler helps shorthanded Bulls pull away from Knicks
CHICAGO — Bobby Portis talks to himself in the third person when he gets on the court, saying stuff like “Come on, B.P.” to get fired up. The rookie forward can shoot it from deep or score inside. And he is making quite an impression on the rest of the Chicago Bulls.
Portis had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his third consecutive game scoring in double figures, and the Bulls shut down the New York Knicks in the fourth quarter for a 108-81 victory Friday night.
“Not trying to go out there and score or rebound,” Portis said. “Just trying to go out there and just play my role and bring positive energy.”
The 6-foot-11 Portis was a first-round pick in last year’s draft, but he barely played early this season. Then center Joakim Noah got hurt, and Portis made the most of his chance for regular minutes.
He is averaging 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in his last seven games, and coach Fred Hoiberg said Portis will remain in the rotation even when Noah returns.
“We’re going to continue to find minutes for Bobby,” Hoiberg said. “There is no doubt about it. He’s playing too well.”
Jimmy Butler scored 23 points as Chicago won for the fourth time in five games while avenging a blowout loss at New York on Dec. 19. Nikola Mirotic had 17 points and a career-high seven assists in one of his best games this season, and Pau Gasol added 17 points and eight rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony had 20 points and seven rebounds for New York, which has dropped five of six. Jose Calderon went 3 for 3 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points.
“We had some shots that didn’t go in to start the fourth quarter and I thought we got discouraged and we let our energy get turned around the other way and it just kind of snowballed from there,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said.
The Bulls blew a 17-point lead before pulling away from the Knicks in the final period. Portis made two free throws, Mirotic connected from deep and Butler had a driving layup to close out a 20-6 run that made it 97-79 with 4:48 left.
New York managed just eight points over the last 12 minutes for the lowest total in franchise history in the fourth. The team missed 17 of its 19 shots in the final period.
“It was just extremely frustrating to miss all those shots,” rookie Kristaps Porzingis said. “And that just, missing those shots, I think our energy got a little low, and we just couldn’t get good defensive stops.”
The final quarter looked a lot like the first period. The Knicks missed their first 10 shots and needed almost 4 minutes to score their first points of 2016, a layup for Porzingis with 8:05 left in the opening quarter.
When Mirotic blocked Lance Thomas’ shot and hit a 3-pointer at the other end, Chicago had a 23-6 lead.
But the Knicks slowly chipped away at the deficit. They got it down to 56-50 at halftime, and Porzingis’ hook shot put New York in front for the first time at 67-65 with 5:20 left in the third.
WAITING FOR NOAH
Noah missed his fifth straight game with a left shoulder sprain, but Hoiberg said the center is doing very well.
“He’ll get retested, re-evaluated on Monday and then we’ll have a better idea with how long he’ll be out,” Hoiberg said. “Hopefully, at least in our room and in our circle, we’re hoping that he gets cleared right away.”
When asked about a timetable for Noah’s return if he gets cleared on Monday, Hoiberg said it will depend on what the doctors say.
Anthony has scored at least 20 points in 19 of his 32 games this season. He is averaging 21.9 points overall.
Knicks: New York has dropped its last nine games at the United Center. … Thomas finished with 11 points.
Bulls: PG Derrick Rose missed his second straight game due to right hamstring tendinitis. Hoiberg said the plan is for Rose to travel with the team to Toronto for Sunday’s game against the Raptors. … Butler has at least one steal in his last 39 games for the longest active streak in the league. … It was the franchise’s 4,000th regular-season game.
Knicks: Host Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.
Bulls: Visit Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
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