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Mike Dunleavy not exactly making friends on this trip

PORTLAND, Ore. — Despite a subpar game in the Bulls’ 105-87 loss Friday to the Portland Trail Blazers, Mike Dunleavy hasn’t had many problems making shots early in the Bulls’ seven-game road trip.

Making friends? That’s where he has been struggling.

Dunleavy survived the ‘‘clown’’ game Thursday against DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings. He and Cousins merely exchanged words after a run-in underneath the basket just a few seconds into the game. The two exchanged shoves and elbows last season, and Cousins called Dunleavy ‘‘a clown.’’

It looks as though both sides have moved on, but it might not be as easy for the Blazers to do

the same.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter Friday, the Bulls’ Joakim Noah fell to the court after getting hit in the face. While Noah was down, Dunleavy saw the Blazers’ Damian Lillard loading up for a three-pointer. His instinct was to foul Lillard to stop the game.

Did he ever. Dunleavy nailed Lillard in the air, forcefully sending him to the ground. The Blazers’ Wesley Matthews responded by going after Dunleavy, and the Bulls’ Aaron Brooks went after everybody. Dunleavy was assessed a flagrant foul, and Matthews and Brooks were hit with technicals.

After the game, things continued to heat up.

‘‘I don’t know what Mike was thinking,’’ Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ‘‘To take out a shooter like this in a defenseless position, I thought it was uncalled for.’’

Lillard was more expressive.

‘‘It was cheap,’’ Lillard said. ‘‘I’ve had worse things happen, but that was the last thing I was expecting on a wide-open three-point shot. It was a cheap play. I don’t know what else to say about it.

‘‘I saw him coming toward me kind of fast, and I was like, ‘He’s not stopping.’ So I kind of let the ball go. I was kind of thrown off when he did it. I fell to the ground, and I was like, ‘Did he really just?’ I didn’t understand why. It was cheap.’’

Dunleavy said the foul was several things, but ‘‘cheap’’ wasn’t one of them.

‘‘I felt bad,’’ Dunleavy said. ‘‘Jo went down, and it looked like he got hit pretty hard, so I was going to take an intentional foul. Lillard went up to shoot, and it was one of those things where I got put in an awkward situation. He was in a shooting motion, and I had to foul him hard because I didn’t want to give up a four-point play. It was just an awkward moment.

‘‘Nice kid. I’ve got nothing against him. It was totally unintentional in terms of trying to hurt or injure somebody. I was just trying to intentionally foul him because Jo was lying in the paint.’’

Call it a difference of opinion.

What can’t be disputed, however, is Dunleavy’s importance to the Bulls. He was supposed to be a bench player when the Bulls signed him in the summer of 2013, but he wound up starting 61 of 82 games last season and has been firmly

entrenched in the starting lineup this season.

‘‘He’s a consummate pro,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘Whatever you ask him to fulfill, he’s going to do it. He plays for the team. You can play him off the bench. You can start him. And he’s a basketball player. Whatever is called for, that’s what he’s going to do.’’

Even if it’s not always popular with the other team.


Twitter: @suntimes_hoops