Bulls big man Bobby Portis says blame is on players, not on coach Jim Boylen
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Bulls big man Bobby Portis has become good at blocking out the noise.
Considering all he went through in the wake of punching then-teammate Nikola Mirotic in the face in a practice altercation last season, Portis had to learn how not to let outside voices bother him.
But even Portis, the longest-tenured player on the roster, knows about all the criticism surrounding coach Jim Boylen.
‘‘I like Jim a lot,’’ Portis said. ‘‘Obviously, Jim is different from [former coach] Fred [Hoiberg], but they both care about their players a lot. Jim plays at a slower pace, but that kind of benefits us a little more, so we can get back and try and build our defense. The biggest thing for us right now is stopping people from hitting threes. That’s been the thing that’s hurt us.
‘‘But I love Jim’s style. Jim lets me go out there and do what I do on a nightly basis, and he has the utmost confidence in me, just like Fred did.’’
Such praise had nothing to do with Portis getting a start in the Bulls’ 106-101 loss Friday to the Clippers, though. He finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in the Bulls’ 10th loss in their last 11 games.
As far as Portis is concerned, all the player pushback when Boylen took over and the losses that have been piling up shouldn’t fall on Boylen’s shoulders.
‘‘For me, I have no complaints about the things we do — practice, all that stuff,’’ Portis said. ‘‘You can try and blame a coach for whatever you want: ‘Coach did this, Coach did that.’ But we’re the ones out there playing.’’
And, in the case of the final minutes against the Clippers, not playing well when it mattered most.
The Bulls (11-38) watched a 12-point lead in the first half disappear in the second. Even so, they had a chance to ruin the night for the Clippers.
With the Bulls trailing 100-99, rookie Chandler Hutchison took a prayer of a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down and missed badly. It was a possession on which the offense looked confused about what they wanted to get done. That gave the Clippers the ball back with 48 seconds left.
Then came the defensive breakdown. Patrick Beverley attacked an empty paint and, when the Bulls were late to rotate, made a floater to put the Clippers ahead by three with 35.6 seconds left.
After a questionable three-point try by Zach LaVine (29 points) out of a timeout, the Clippers all but iced the game when Lou Williams delivered a pinpoint assist to Montrezl Harrell, who slammed the ball home with 16.6 seconds left. The assist gave Williams a triple-double with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
According to Boylen, LaVine was the second option on his missed three.
‘‘It was see what Kris Dunn could get if we could sneak something, then we had Zach as kind of the secondary
option coming to the top,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘You would always like to get an open look on the layup, but we didn’t get that. So you put the ball in [LaVine’s] hands and hope you get something.’’
Just like that the Bulls found yet another way to lose.
‘‘They made plays, and we didn’t,’’ Dunn said. ‘‘I felt like we fought throughout the whole game, and it just sucks that we didn’t come out with the win.’’