PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (31-36)
at CHICAGO BULLS (36-30)
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -6, Total: 189
After a heart-breaking loss to Denver on Monday on a controversial call, the Bulls try to bounce back with a win over the slumping Blazers on Thursday night.
Portland is 2-14 SU in its past 16 road games, losing its third straight road contests on Tuesday at Milwaukee. The Blazers are now 9-25 SU (13-20 ATS) away from home this season. Chicago thought it had beaten the streaking Nuggets on Joakim Noah's last-second tip-in, but after officials reviewed the play, they called Noah for basket interference. The Bulls are now 18-15 SU (10-23 ATS) at home this season. Despite Chicago's recent success, the Blazers have dominated this series since 2008, going 8-2 SU (7-3 ATS) including three straight wins (SU and ATS) by 6, 11 and 8 points on Nov. 18 at home.
Can the Bulls recover from their disappointing loss with a sizable victory on Thursday? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is 68% ATS (25-12-1) since Feb. 20, StatFox Brian is 63% ATS (20-12-1) since Feb. 28, and StatFox Scott is 54% ATS (38-32-1) since Feb. 3. The experts are a collective 55% ATS (152-125-4) since February began, and Scott is now 54% ATS (108-93-2) for the season, while Gary is also 54% ATS (88-76-5) and Brian is 52% ATS (109-101-4). For NBA Totals, Gary is a stellar 71% (12-5) since March 7, Brian is 60% (6-4) since March 13, and Scott is 64% (16-9-3) since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 57% (92-70-3) in Totals.
Portland scores just 95.8 PPG on the road this season, but its offense has been clicking recently with 101.8 PPG in the past five games. Defensively, this club surrenders 99.7 PPG on 47% FG overall and 102.1 PPG on 48% in road games. The Blazers made just 2-of-20 shots in the second quarter of Tuesday's loss to Bucks and trailed by 27 points before coming back to make the game respectable. SG Wesley Matthews (15.0 PPG) scored 28 points, hitting a season-high seven threes in that defeat. He had been slumping in his previous four games, scoring just 11.3 PPG on 33% shooting. Matthews scored 21 points on 9-of-15 FG in the previous win over Chicago. PF LaMarcus Aldridge (21.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG) posted his fifth straight double-double on Tuesday with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and is averaging 26.8 PPG and 12.2 RPG during this streak. He scored 18 points and grabbed 13 boards in the Nov. 18 win over Chicago. PG Damian Lillard (19.0 PPG, 6.6 APG) had 16 points in that most recent meeting with the Bulls, but ended his 15-game streak of double-figure points by scoring just eight points on 2-of-10 shooting at Milwaukee. He did have 11 assists (and six turnovers) though, marking his seventh straight game with at least seven helpers, averaging 8.4 APG over this stretch. SF Nicolas Batum (14.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.8 APG) scored 21 points (5-of-10 threes) versus Chicago in November and has averaged 14.3 PPG on 49% FG (13-of-29 threes, 45%) in his past four games.
Chicago's offense has been poor all season at 92.8 PPG on 43.5% FG, and has been even worse at United Center (92.1 PPG on 43.0% FG allowed). Although the defense is stellar, allowing just 89.7 PPG on 42.8% FG at home, the Bulls have surrendered 102.6 PPG on 47.2% FG in their past five games. C Joakim Noah (12.0 PPG, 11.5 RPG) has posted two straight double-doubles (15.0 PPG, 12.5 RPG) and dominated the Blazers with 16 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in the lone meeting this season. PF Carlos Boozer (15.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG) did nothing in his 22 minutes at Rose Garden, scoring a mere four points (2-of-8 shooting) with three rebounds, but he has made his voice heard in the past five contests with 18.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG. SF Luol Deng (16.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG) hasn't played great in March with 14.9 PPG on 40% FG, but has back-to-back, 20-point efforts, averaging 22.0 PPG on 46% FG. Deng scored 14 points with seven rebounds and four assists in the previous meeting with the Blazers. SG Richard Hamilton (10.2 PPG) had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the Nov. 18 loss at Portland, and PG Nate Robinson (12.3 PPG, 4.3 APG) came off the bench to score 18 points in 19 minutes that game. Robinson pumped in a season-high 34 points in Monday's loss and could get big minutes again on Thursday with PG Kirk Hinrich questionable (foot). Reserve PF Taj Gibson (7.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG) has missed the past 10 games with a sprained MCL, but is expected to return to action on Thursday.