Deng scored a career-high 40 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 110-98 victory over Portland on Monday night. Deng’s previous career best of 38 points, on March 26, 2007, also came against the Trail Blazers.
“I think it’s just a coincidence,” said Deng. “We just shot the ball well. We moved it and shot it well. You’re going to get shots in different places (in our offense), so you’ve go to be ready.”
Deng scored 16 points in the first and third quarters and shot 14-of-19 from the floor in the game. He passed his previous career high a 3-pointer from the corner with 5:48 to play. The shot put the Bulls up 101-84.
“During the first two games, (Deng) didn’t shoot the ball well, but I thought he played well,” said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau. “He’s moving without the ball, he’s cutting hard, he’s making the extra pass and he’s playing really good defense. Tonight, he was terrific offensively. His body was in (constant) motion and he got out and ran the floor well.”
“My whole goal was to see how I could control the game,” Rose said. “They were keeping two people on me, so I had to pass the ball. Tonight, we were knocking in shots.”
The Trail Blazers entered the game 3-0, with all three of their victories coming as a result of fourth quarter comebacks. Portland outscored opponents 85-49 in the final quarters of its first three games, but were unable to mount a sustained rally against the Bulls.
Portland climbed out of a nine-point hole with a 17-3 run to finish its game in New York on Friday night. This time, reserves Dante Cunningham(notes) and Armon Johnson(notes) scored on layups on back-to-back possessions to cut Chicago’s lead to nine with 3:51 to play. Was another rally in the offing?
LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) scored a season-high 33 points for Portland (3-1), almost single-handedly keeping the Blazers in the game through three quarters. Aldridge was originally drafted by the Bulls in 2006 but was traded the same day in a deal that sent fellow draftee Tyrus Thomas(notes) to Chicago.
“They tried to get me off the block,” said Aldridge. “But I had a pretty good rhythm going.”
Aldridge surpassed his previous season best of 20 points in the first half, during which he scored 22 points.
“His catches were a little too easy,” said Thibodeau about Aldridge’s big night. “We gambled too much and got caught off to the side.”
Deng scored 16 points in the first quarter, much of it coming in transition, where Bulls outscored the Trail Blazers 12-0 and built a 32-21 lead. The Blazers entered the game as the NBA’s top three-point shooting team, but went 0-for-3 from there in the opening period and 0-of-14 in the game.
“We definitely need to play with more energy,” said Portland coach Nate McMillan. “Our first unit gave up 32 points in the first and third quarters.
“Defensively, I think we’re playing soft.”
“(Deng) is probably the X-factor on their team to get them to go where they want,” Camby said.
Notes: The Bulls held a moment of silence for former Blazers player and assistant coach Maurice Lucas, who passed away Sunday night after a battle with bladder cancer … Tom Thibodeau said injured forward Carlos Boozer(notes) is expected to have the cast removed from his broken right hand on Tuesday. Boozer injured the hand in a fall at his Chicago apartment on Oct. 2. A timetable has not yet been established for his return to the court. … Rose was averaging 33.5 points in Chicago’s first two contests. The last pure point guard to lead the league in scoring was Nate Archibald, who averaged 34.0 points per game for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the 1972-73 season.