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Portis is latest young Bull looking to silence critics

Bulls big man Bobby Portis has been keeping track.

He knows who has been criticizing his game and who has deemed him unworthy to have been the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 draft.

On Monday, he had some answers for those doubters.

‘‘I don’t care about nobody judging me,’’ Portis said when he was asked whether he has been evaluated fairly. ‘‘At the end of the day, I’m going to play basketball. That’s my job. I’m going to go out there and do the things I do well.

‘‘I feel like sometimes people misconstrue just because you don’t play and they can say some things like that. . . . At the end of the day, I’m still going to be Bobby Portis.’’

Portis has started both games the Bulls have played since forwards Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott were dealt to the Thunder at the trade deadline Thursday. But he had been playing a bigger role even before that, with Nikola Mirotic struggling with a back injury and with his game in general.

Portis scored 16 points in 31 minutes in a loss Feb. 12 to the Timberwolves and 19 points in 26 minutes in a victory Feb. 16 against the Celtics. In the two games he has started since Gibson was traded, he has averaged eight points and five rebounds in victories against the Suns and Cavaliers.

‘‘I was over at Taj’s house two days before [the trade], and we were just talking about everything, like some of the trade rumors and things like that,’’ Portis said. ‘‘Once Taj got traded, I sent him a long thank-you for showing me the way, things like that.

‘‘He was always saying, ‘Always stay ready, BP, because around this league crazy things happen.’ So it was just a crazy moment a couple of days ago.’’

While Portis stayed away from comparing his game to Gibson’s, the one obvious difference is range. Despite being 6-11, Portis can shoot from three-point range (38 percent this season). Gibson’s game was more about the paint.

‘‘Our first and second groups are playing very similar,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said of the look the Bulls can get from Portis. ‘‘Before that, that first unit really had its own package.’’

Portis hasn’t been the only young player to show what he can do with more minutes, either. The trade also has given rookie Denzel Valentine more playing time, and he has responded by averaging 13 points and shooting 8-for-13 from three-point range in the last two games.

‘‘I feel like all the young guys, we come in here and work hard every day,’’ Portis said. ‘‘So when the opportunity is given, we’re going to give big minutes. The biggest thing with us is going out there and playing hard, playing together as a team. Just trying to get wins, man.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com