Fred Hoiberg doesn’t commit to Bobby Portis playing Tuesday

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As Bobby Portis plays — occasionally lying down — Nikola Mirotic works out alone.

The game Saturday against the Pelicans was the last of Bobby Portis’ eight-game suspension for punching Nikola Mirotic. But it’s not known if Portis will play Tuesday, when the Bulls face the Raptors.

Coach Fred Hoiberg was asked before the game if Portis would play in Toronto and was noncommittal.

“We’ll see,” Hoiberg said. “He’s been practicing, so we’ll see how tonight goes and get a couple of good days of practice and take it from there.”

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As for Mirotic, Hoiberg said he has been coming in every day and “getting workouts.” His workload on the bike is increasing, and he has been able to get into a pool but is still not doing anything on the court.

“The important thing is he’s making progress and is in good spirits,” Hoiberg said.

Hoiberg said he spoke with Mirotic on the phone Friday and saw him at the Advocate Center on Saturday.

Still starting

David Nwaba’s night began with acclaim and another start. It ended with an injury.

Nwaba left with 5:17 to go in the third quarter, when he was called for an offensive foul on Jameer Nelson. Nwaba collided with Nelson and stayed down after spraining his right ankle. He needed help getting off the court.

Before the game, Hoiberg was effusive in his praise for Nwaba.

“The biggest thing with David is he’s really given us a toughness factor with our first group,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘He has speed in the open court. He’s been a one-man fast break on several occasions getting to the basket. The best thing that he’s doing is he’s been really good as far as his passing in the paint, small spaces. He’s kicked out to the corners for open, high-percentage [three-pointers]. He’s taken on the challenge of guarding the other team’s best player. He’s rebounding at a high rate.”

But wait, there’s more.

“He’s really given us a big spark and given us a physical presence out there on the perimeter,” Hoiberg said.

Tony Allen, a Pelicans reserve who has enjoyed a successful career, also is listed at 6-4 and could be looked at as someone Nwaba might want to emulate.

“He’s been around for a long time and just has that desire to play defense,’’ Nwaba said. ‘‘I learned from that, as well. I like playing defense and just trying to get these stops to help our team. He’s great at what he does, and whether it’s not as efficient on the offensive end, he can contribute definitely on the defensive end.

“Just doing something to help contribute is the biggest thing.”

Nwaba was part of an unchanged starting lineup. That meant Jerian Grant remained in the first five, and Kris Dunn came off the bench.

Here but out

Former Bulls guard Rajon Rondo made the trip with the Pelicans but was inactive. Rondo, who signed a free-agent deal with New Orleans during the summer, hasn’t played for the Pelicans because of a sports hernia.

Omer Asik, another former Bull, also was out. He has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and hasn’t played this season. His last appearance was Feb. 10.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.


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