PHILADELPHIA – It's no surprise to see Zach LaVine leading the Bulls offensive.
The 78 million man was terrific despite a 127-108 loss to the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. LaVine scored 30 points on 11 out of 19.
What may surprise you is the brilliance of Bobby Portis. Portis was himself very good and took 20 points and 11 boards while playing his usual aggressive basketball brand.
Unfortunately, both players were in bad trouble early in the second half when Philadelphia began imposing his will on a 19 – 3 – Start of the third quarter
The Bulls started with a hot start and scored in the first quarter 41 points. They were only half past seven, thanks in large part to LaVine and Portis. The duo worked well together in the pick-and-roll and sometimes confused the 76's how exactly it was played.
"I expect that," LaVine said when asked about the team's early offensive performance. "I expect that from myself and I know that Bobby is right there with me, Bobby did it, and that's what he's done in the last few years, so we expect that."
Maybe that should Game of Portis in view of his success against Philadelphia not so surprising his career. He earned a career-high 38 points last season in a point loss for the Sixers. He also shot 55 percent against them for his career in 1
With rookie Wendell Carter Jr. battling in his first NBA startup, Portis looked at a time of five, something that Hoiberg addressed as a possibility before the game. Portis replaced the injured Lauri Markkanen with an impressive preseason. His piece has passed into the opening night.
Portis will not wait long for the starting XI when Markkanen returns, but he showed his worth on Thursday.
As for LaVine, he showed lightning from a guy who may be the focal point of a crime. As he worked the jumper, his ends around the edge were more impressive. Especially when you consider that some of them have taken on Joel Embiid, last season's runner-up.
"I love Zach's attack," said Fred Hoiberg. "I thought, especially early in the game, he did not settle for shots, so he came around his man looking for contact and doing a good job to get to the free throw line."
The bulls were not expected this Winning game and will be in much pain this season – especially as the injury continues
What bull-fans will find out on the first night is that the team's investment in a healthy LaVine turns out to be well-spent money.
"Yes, man," LaVine said after being asked if he felt healthier than last year. "One year after breaking my ACL, I feel like I'm back to myself – athletic, speed, speed, I've got my legs under me, I just needed you to give me some time."
"Me Last year was 70 percent and I think I was fine. Now I feel fine. It feels good to be back in my own skin. "