CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls tried all sorts of defensive coverages on Damian Lillard. He kept scoring anyway.
Just not enough to hold down Zach LaVine and company.
LaVine scored 36 points, DeMar DeRozan had 27 and the Bulls topped Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers 129-121 on Saturday night.
Nikola Vucevic added 23 points and 11 rebounds as Chicago won for the third time in four games, erasing a 17-point deficit in the second half. Ayo Dosunmu had 13 points, including a key 3-pointer in the third quarter.
The Bulls shot 60% (48 for 80) from the field and finished with 32 assists.
“We were able to get in transition, get some easy baskets,” LaVine said. “Then when they started doubling, it was just picking it out where the rotation was.”
Lillard scored 40 points for Portland, and Anfernee Simons had 27. But the Trail Blazers looked a little tired in the second half of their third game in four nights.
Portland had won five of six, including a 124-116 victory at Washington on Friday after trailing the Wizards 69-51 at halftime.
“I think it is a factor. You start to feel some fatigue,” Lillard said. “You have some mistakes and some breakdowns and stuff like that, and I think that’s probably something that comes from being out there back to back nights.”
Lillard and Simons took advantage of the absence of Alex Caruso, Chicago’s best perimeter defender. Caruso sprained his right foot during Thursday night’s 114-98 victory over Charlotte.
Portland trailed by one with 8:07 left, but Chicago put it away with a 12-0 run. Vucevic made two foul shots to give the Bulls a 117-104 lead with 5:13 remaining.
“Tonight, we just (weren’t) able to weather that storm in the second half,” Lillard said.
Portland opened an 80-63 lead on Lillard’s fourth 3-pointer with 6:38 left in the third quarter. But Dosunmu responded with a 3 on the other end, sparking a 24-4 run for Chicago.
LaVine converted a three-point play, a conventional 3-pointer and two foul shots to give the Bulls an 87-84 lead with 1:47 left. Andre Drummond’s foul shot sent Chicago into the fourth with a 92-87 advantage.
“I think that when we got down, we were in, I think, a mindset where we were trying to solve problems, and I think that’s where we’ve got to be,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
Lillard started heating up in the second quarter. The seven-time All-Star went 7 for 7 at the line while scoring 19 points in the period, helping Portland to a 70-59 lead at the break.
Lillard is averaging 40 points and 7.1 assists over his last seven games. He is shooting 55.9% (85 for 152) during the torrid stretch.
Trail Blazers: The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, and coach Chauncey Billups said his playing career comes in handy this time of year. He was often the subject of trade rumors. “You have to learn how to handle that,” Billups said, “and how to continue to keep playing and not even worry about it.” … F Justise Winslow remained sidelined by a left ankle sprain. He hasn’t played since Dec. 21.
Bulls: Donovan said Caruso felt much better Friday morning, but there hadn’t been a lot of change since then. “Still having some discomfort, but not at the level it was after the game,” Donovan said. … F Patrick Williams played more than 31 minutes after he tweaked his right ankle against the Hornets. … DeRozan also had seven assists and seven rebounds.
Trail Blazers: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night in the opener of a five-game homestand.