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Bulls hope for follow-up effort vs. Pelicans
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls are struggling throughout the young season to establish any sort of rhythm as they attempt to click as a young team.
Heading into the back end of their first back-to-back of the year Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Bulls will do so fresh off their most complete victory.
As forward Bobby Portis prepares to serve the final game of his eight-game suspension for punching teammate Nikola Mirotic two weeks ago in practice, Chicago (2-5) will attempt to ride out some momentum from Friday night's 105-83 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The Bulls established some offensive chemistry against the Magic as seven scorers reached double figures, paced by Justin Holiday's 19 points.
Rookie Lauri Markkanen scored in double figures (13 points, nine rebounds) for the seventh time while the Bulls limited the Magic to just 40.7 percent shooting.
"I was really happy with the way we came out tonight," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after his team shot 47.1 percent and made 14 3-pointers. "Our grit and energy, intensity on the defensive end, I thought was excellent. You talk a lot in this business about team wins, and this was a true team win tonight. We saw some great signs out there tonight."
As Portis prepares to return Tuesday night in Toronto, Mirotic completed his third straight day of workouts in Chicago. He is recovering from the facial fractures and concussion he sustained in the fight with Portis.
Hoiberg spoke with the forward on Friday and told reporters that Mirotic had his best day since being sidelined.
Mirotic has cleared the NBA's concussion protocol and no longer is experiencing headaches after working out, Hoiberg said. But whether Mirotic can co-exist with Portis -- who has been traveling and working out with the Bulls this week -- remains to be seen.
Mirotic is expected to be out for up to two months and the Bulls have stressed the need for Portis and Mirotic to begin to work out their differences.
"That's something we're going to take it day-by-day," Hoiberg said Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Hopefully, we'll get a chance to see him (Saturday) and go from there. I know he's going to continue to come in and get his treatment."
The Bulls, whom guard Denzel Valentine said Friday he expects will be treated as underdogs all seasons, will face the Pelicans (4-5), who held off the Dallas Mavericks 99-94 to snap a two-game losing streak by getting big games from the two-headed monster of frontcourt stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Davis led New Orleans with 30 points and 13 rebounds while DeMarcus Cousins scored 20 points and grabbed 22 rebounds as the tandem continues to fuel the Pelicans' scoring attack.
For the first time this season, the Pelicans won when Davis and Cousins combined to score more than half of the team's points.
Now, the Pelicans who kicked off a four-game road swing on Friday will look to replicate the effort on Saturday night against a Bulls team that put together one of their best defensive efforts of the season.
"We got a win on the road, that's all we can ask for," Davis said. "We started the road trip off right. We've got another one (Saturday) night against Chicago.
"It's tough to get a win in the NBA, especially on the road and so we're just happy we got this one."
Chicago has won the last six meetings since Davis scored 24 points in an 88-79 home win for New Orleans on Feb. 1, 2014.
Updated November 4, 2017