Bulls hope for jolt from Portis vs. Raptors

TORONTO -- The first time the Chicago Bulls visited the Air Canada Centre this season, they were without Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic.

Portis slugged Mirotic during a fight in practice on Oct. 17. Mirotic sustained a concussion and two facial fractures, and the team suspended Portis for eight games.

Mirotic still cannot play because of the injury, but Portis is set to rejoin the Bulls on Tuesday night when visit the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors defeated the Bulls 117-100 on Oct. 19, the season opener for both teams.

Both teams are going into the game off home losses.

The Bulls (2-6) lost 96-90 in overtime to the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. Chicago shot 35 percent and made just 11 of 42 from 3-point range after recording a double-digit win in Orlando on Friday.

The Raptors (5-4) returned from a 3-3 road trip only to lose at home to the Washington Wizards 107-96 on Sunday. It was a game in which Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry was ejected during the second quarter for drawing two quick technical fouls.

Portis will return Tuesday to the Chicago lineup as a reserve power forward behind Lauri Markkanen, and he also could see some reserve time at center. Markkanen scored 14 points Saturday and is leading the team with an average of 16.3 points per game.

"This is something that unfortunately, it happened," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of the Portis-Mirotic incident. "There was an altercation, and Bobby served the eight-game suspension. It was something that was thought a lot about as far as what the punishment would be in collaboration with the league. They felt that this was the right punishment.

"He sat out his games and was able to stay active and practice with us. Now, we'll put him back on the floor. And we welcome him back."

Robin Lopez led the Bulls with 19 points in the game against the Raptors, and Markkanen made an impressive NBA debut with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors with 23 points and 15 rebounds, and C.J. Miles added 22 points.

The Raptors have been plagued by inconsistency since winning their first two games of the season, both at home. The first quarter has been the downfall in poor performances, and Toronto was outscored 32-17 in the first period Sunday.

"We must do something about that," said guard DeMar DeRozan, who led the Raptors with 26 points on Sunday. "We can't have starts like that and expect to get right back in the game. We can't make it hard on ourselves out of the gate. We must come out and play like the way we did at the end of the third and going into the fourth, from the jump."

"We just have to find a way to start the game strong," said Raptors forward Norman Powell, who scored 19 points on Sunday. "We can't wait until they punch us in the face and then we decide to wake up. We have to come out with the focus, energy and the compete level to be up in the starting unit."

The Raptors are getting some energy from their second unit.

It is that kind of spark the Bulls hope Portis can inject on his return.

"Every time he steps on the floor and we need a jolt of energy, he can provide that for us," Hoiberg said. "He needs to continue to do those little things that have made him successful when he's been on the floor his first couple years in the league. And that's to play with great energy, run the floor for us, rebound at a high level and follow the game plan defensively.

"I know his teammates are excited to have him back. I know the coaches are excited to have him back. The guys, they love Bobby as a teammate."
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