The Blazers, who led by as many as nine points in the second half, got a scare midway through the fourth quarter when Telfair rolled his right ankle while turning to pass to Ratliff. Telfair, the team’s starter at the point, had to be helped off the court.
The Blazers seemed stunned by the injury, and the Bulls pulled within 88-87 on Michael Sweetney’s turnaround jumper. Chicago took over an 89-88 lead on Luol Deng’s dunk.
After a timeout, Telfair reappeared to loud cheers from the sparse weeknight crowd and the Blazers regained some of their energy.
Randolph, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds, missed a free throw that would have given the Blazers a lead, but instead the score was tied at 91 with 1:13 to go.
After Chicago’s loose ball foul, Ratliff hit one of two free throws to put Portland ahead 92-91—but Juan Dixon missed a 3-point attempt with 24.9 seconds left and it remained close.
Then Kirk Hinrich hit his running jumper with 15.3 seconds left to put the Bulls briefly back ahead. But after a timeout, the Blazers inbounded the ball to Telfair, who missed a layup and fell to the court, but Ratliff scored on the follow dunk.
“The way that play is designed I either drop it off to him or he’s there for the follow,” Telfair said. “When I was laying there on the floor I was happy to see him dunking the ball.”
Several Bulls missed shots in the waning moments, and Dixon made a pair of free throws for the final margin.
Dixon finished with 16 points for Portland, which has won three of four at the Rose Garden to go 3-3 under new coach Nate McMillan. Randolph is one of four players in the league to average 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“It felt great. I was there,” Ratliff said. “Coach told me to go to the boards hard in case we miss, because we knew they were going to be focusing on Zach.”
Sweetney had 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Nocioni added 18 for Chicago.
“He’s really talented down there, he’s a load,” Hinrich said about Sweetney. “He can throw his weight around but he’s really quick and has a ton of moves down there. If we’re going to be anything, he’s going to be huge for us.”
The Bulls are on their traditional November West Coast road trip while the circus takes over United Center. It didn’t start well. On Monday, Chicago got routed by the Golden State Warriors, 100-82.
Since the 1999-2000 season, the Bulls are 1-39 on the annual road trip.
Darius Miles’ steal and layup at the other end tied it at 48 before Dixon’s 19-foot jumper put the Blazers ahead.
Portland wrapped up the half with a 13-4 run to lead 61-52.
Dixon’s jumper as time wound down in the third quarter made it 79-70.
But the Bulls responded with a 9-2 run to pull within 81-79 on Nocioni’s 3-pointer, and Chicago kept it close until the end.
“I thought we showed a lot of aggressiveness,” McMillan said. “They are a scrappy team but I thought we scrapped a little more.”
Telfair said precautionary X-rays were taken of his ankle, but he wouldn’t
Blazers Forward Viktor Khryapa did not dress because of an injured toe on his right foot. … The Bulls swept the Blazers in their two-game series last season. … The Blazers activated forward Travis Outlaw and placed guard Charles Smith on the inactive list.