Bobby Portis shows in Bulls debut that he isn’t ‘intimidated by anyone’

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LAS VEGAS – Bobby Portis is no stranger to playing second fiddle to the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft.

Call Saturday a bit of redemption.

Making his Bulls debut in Summer League play, Portis went head-to-head with Minnesota’s top pick in Karl-Anthony Towns, and at least showcased one of the attributes that had the Bulls excited in drafting him: Portis isn’t scared.

Being matched up against Towns through most of the first quarter, Portis went right at the Kentucky standout, scoring seven points on 3-for-4 shooting, including a three-pointer from the 6-foot-11 forward/center.

Not that Portis wasn’t used to a showdown with Towns.

The two met twice in SEC play last year, and while Portis’ Arkansas team fell both times to the top-ranked Wildcats, Portis didn’t play like a guy that was intimidated by the top player in the country and the No. 1 ranking.

In a Feb. 28 showdown, Portis had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Towns finished with eight points and five rebounds in the 84-67 Wildcats win. Then in the SEC Championship Game, Portis finished with 13 points, while Towns again had just eight points.

Saturday? Much of the same, as Portis scored 23 points, including hitting 3-for-4 from beyond the three-point line, as well as seven rebounds. As for Towns, he had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting, while grabbing nine boards.

“I just felt like it was a great opportunity for me, you know, to show the world what Bobby Portis can do,’’ Portis said. “I was a guy that was passed up by a lot of teams. I got to basically show the whole world what I can do.

“I’m not intimidated by anyone. I’m just going out there and playing my game. I’m not worried about a match-up. I’m worried about trying to be the best basketball player I can be for this franchise.’’

The big difference in Round 3 against Towns? Portis was finally on the winning side, as the Bulls beat the Timberwolves 84-71.

“We talked about matchups and said, ‘Let’s throw him at Karl and see what he’s made of,’ ‘’ first-year Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of Portis and Towns. “I thought he stepped up to the challenge big-time. He was aggressive looking for his shot. I thought he ran the floor extremely well. I loved the fact he had to ask me to come out of the game three times. That showed me he played with great effort. His ability to stretch the floor and knock down shots, he showed that in our little minicamp. He’s a very well-rounded kid.’’

It wasn’t the only debut on Saturday night. Obvious by how quiet the Bulls sideline was against the Timberwolves.

The all-too familiar Tom Thibodeau screams of “Ice … Ice … ‘’ now seemingly a distant memory with the calm of Hoiberg on the bench. Hoiberg was expected to coach the first two Summer League games before passing the baton to his assistants.

And while Summer League is by no means the stage to judge a coaching debut or even get a grasp of what “Hoiball’’ will look like with an experienced NBA roster, there were at least some tells on how the first-year coach wants to play offensively.

Fast.

“It was fun,’’ Hoiberg said. “In college, you have a pregame meal with your team. Here, you’re kind of on your own so I kind of grabbed one of the assistants and wrote down some notes at lunch. The big thing is trusting your guys. You put in a system and hope they go out and execute and I thought our guys did a great job.’’

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