TORONTO – Short-handed and in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, ready or not, the regular 82 arrived for the Bulls on Thursday afternoon, as they prepared for their season-opener in Toronto.
Obviously there was still a certain sting around the team as a result of Bobby Portis starting an eight-game suspension for a punch that landed teammate Nikola Mirotic in the hospital, but coach Fred Hoiberg was hoping that the healing had started.
Finally getting this group on a basketball court would be a good first step.
“It’s tough,’’ Hoiberg said. “There’s no doubt about that. But it is what it is. We have to move past it and get these guys ready to play.
“It happens. Unfortunately the result with the incident is what you don’t want. But it does happen. Every team I played on, you have situations where you’re separating players. You just hope it doesn’t come to what happened the other day where the line was crossed. With guys as competitive as they are, sometimes things boil over and it gets to that. I heard Shaq [on television] say [Wednesday] night every night he got in a fight with a teammate just because of how physical it is and how you’re banging against each other every day. It is unfortunate. But we’re going to grow from it, learn from it and hopefully come out of it together.’’
With Mirotic and Portis back in Chicago, rookie Lauri Markkanen will get the starting nod at that forward spot, admittedly under some strange circumstances.
“I mean I haven’t seen it before,’’ Markkanen said of Tuesday afternoon’s altercation. “Of course there’s something small [I’ve seen], but I mean it’s just competing. Of course it got a little bit out of hand, but I haven’t seen that before.’’
Along with Markkanen, the Bulls will start Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser.