After two rough road losses, the Chicago Bulls will look to bounce back against Brandon Roy and the Trail Blazers tonight in Portland. The Bulls dropped a 93-112 game to Denver, in which fatigue, lack of defense and poor guard play, all hit the team in the second half. Chicago gave up 66 points, after holding the Nuggets to just 14 first-quarter points.
The Trail Blazers come in at 10-5, having won eight of their last 10 games. All-Star guard Brandon Roy has been his usual stellar self, averaging a well-rounded19.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (a Bulls draftee), has not gotten off to a strong start on the season. The fourth-year player from Texas is averaging 14.5 points, down from 18.1 last year. Though, with a winning team and center Greg Oden healthy and active, the Blazers aren't complaining. Oden, who was drafted first overall in 2007, averages 10.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.33 blocks in just over 24 minutes an outing. Oden also has the largest fouling rate on the team, hacking four times in that short time span.
Over the summer, Portland acquired point guard Andre Miller from free agency. The result so far have been underwhelming. After coming off the bench in a pre-season game, Miller stated he had always been a starter and wouldn't have signed with Portland if they had informed him that he'd be on bench duty. After only starting nine times in the 15 games, Miller have remained professional and tried actively to get involved with the team. Miller leads the Blazers with 5 assists a game.
Bulls center Joakim Noah will face the toughest defensive center rotation in the NBA. Ready to back up Oden is NBA veteran Joel Przybilla. The 7-footer rejects 1.6 shots and pulls down 7.7 rebounds in just 19.7 minutes a game, making him one of the most efficient rebounders and shot-blockers in the NBA. Noah, leading the league in rebounds with 12.3 a game, gives up a solid 20-30 pounds to both players, and will rely on scrappy play to get by.
Point guard Derrick Rose, who has been struggling in the early parts of the season, has woken up over the last two games. Knocking down 20 in Los Angeles and a career-high 28 at Denver. Rose is scoring 24 a game on 20-40 from the field over his last two, and has bumped his average up to 15.2 points a game.
Guard/forward John Salmons stepped up strong against Sacramento, had a decent outing in Los Angeles and shot just two-of-11 at Denver on Saturday, combining with point guard Kirk Hinrich to shoot an unimpressive 5-21. Salmons and Hinrich have both struggled with their shot and consistent effort offensively. The pairing have combined to shoot just 35.1% on the season, connecting on 97-of-276 shots.