Bulls-Trail Blazers Preview
Derrick Rose was in the midst of one of his best games of the season before spraining his left ankle last week.
He'll look to regain the form he displayed before the injury when he makes his expected return Tuesday night, trying to help the Chicago Bulls to their first victory at Portland in nearly nine years.
Rose has missed the Bulls' last two games after coming out with 5:53 remaining in last Monday's 96-95 victory over Indiana. Before exiting, Rose had 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting with six assists and no turnovers. He also hit both 3-point attempts after entering 1 of 18 from beyond the arc.
He was a full participant in Sunday's practice and said afterward he felt good.
Chicago (8-4) got by Phoenix on Wednesday without its starting point guard but could've used Rose's services in Friday's 106-94 loss to Golden State.
The Bulls had a chance to hand the Warriors their first loss, leading by as much as 11 and tying the score at 89 with 5:44 to go. Jimmy Butler was the only Bull to score from that point on as Chicago missed having Rose as another scoring option.
Kirk Hinrich, who started at point guard with Aaron Brooks also out with a hamstring injury, had two turnovers in the final 4:35.
"(The effort has) been really good and that's what got us four straight wins, is playing with that type of effort," coach Fred Hoiberg told the Bulls' official website. "Again, we had it tonight. We were right there down the stretch. We just didn't make the necessary plays to get us over the hump and win the game. If we can keep that consistent we're going to be a good team."
Not surprisingly, Butler has shouldered more of the offense since Rose's injury, totaling 60 points in the last two. However, he has struggled mightily in six career games against the Blazers, averaging 8.8 points - his third lowest against any opponent.
As an All-Star last season, he totaled 20 points on 29.2 percent shooting in two matchups.
Rose had 31 points in the last meeting with Portland, a 115-106 home win Dec. 12 that snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series.
The Blazers have still won seven straight home games over the Bulls since an 88-86 loss in February 2007.
Damian Lillard, who had 35 points and made 7 of 11 from 3-point range in the last meeting with the Bulls, has scored at least 27 in three of Portland's last four games.
The Blazers (6-9) snapped a seven-game losing streak with Friday's 102-91 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers and followed with a 107-93 victory against the Lakers two days later.
They held the Lakers to 21.1 percent shooting in the fourth quarter after limiting the Clippers to 33.3 percent in the final period. Opponents shot 51.0 percent against Portland in the fourth during its skid.
"It's important that you make plays in the fourth quarter, and we had some good defensive stops, and made big plays," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "... Often times in this league, it comes down to the last five minutes and how you execute at both ends of the court. We did that."
Mason Plumlee had 17 points and 11 rebounds on Sunday and is shooting 64.3 percent in his last four games after shooting 37.5 in his previous three.
"I think (Plumlee) is in a good rhythm," Stotts said. "He's shooting the ball, he's passing it, he's figuring out how to make himself available on rolls."