A Pau Gasol triple-double with huge numbers - 22 points, 16 rebounds, and a career-high 14 assists - wasn't enough for the Bulls as they dropped a 103-95 decision to Portland on Saturday night at the United Center.
The first Gasol triple-double as a Bull - and the ninth Gasol triple-double of his career - wasn't enough to overcome Derrick Rose sitting out his third consecutive game with tendinitis in his hamstring.
A certain segment of Bulls fans has suggested that the team is now tanking, and I agree - but not in the way that is normally associated with tanking. Teams usually tank in order to get a high draft pick, and obviously this team can't get to that point. They already have 30 wins, and even if they lost their final 24 games, there is basically no way the Sixers (50 losses), Lakers (49 losses), Suns (44 losses), Nets (42 losses) and Wolves (40 losses) are going to win 30 games.
The Bulls, however, want to make sure they don't finish 4th or 5th in the East, as that would mean matching up with Cleveland in the 2nd round. They would prefer to finish 3rd in the East, but they currently sit four games behind the Celtics - not close enough to overcome injuries to Butler, Mirotic, Rose and Noah.
Which means the most realistic spot for the Bulls to finish is 6th in the East, where they currently sit a single game behind the Pacers. The Bulls shouldn't have any problem finishing there, though it will certainly help their cause if they lose their next game at Miami on Tuesday (I expect Rose to sit out again, just to be sure).
It won't be an easy game to lose if Doug McDermott keeps playing the way he has been over the last 14 games:
McDermott's True Shooting Percentage of .647 would rank behind only Steph Curry for the 2015-16 season, ahead of Kevin Durant's .635 for the season.
Over his last 11 games, McBuckets has been even more impressive:
Doug's .680 TS% has put him at 2nd in the NBA, behind only Curry's .685 TS%.
But as long as Gasol and McDermott are the only two players who show up to play, the Bulls will struggle to win games.
One young man who is doing his best to keep the Bulls in games would be rookie PF Bobby Portis, who had another double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds in only 28 minutes of action. This was Portis' third double-double in his past seven games, and over his past nine he's averaging 10.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game.
The Bulls are now off until Tuesday, when they play at Miami. Starting time is 6:30 CT on CSN-Chicago and NBA-TV.