PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—LaMarcus Aldridge scored so easily against Chicago that he allowed himself a broad smile and a few high-fives from teammates before the game was even over.
“It was fun,” he said after putting up a career-high 42 points Monday night in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 109-103 victory over the Bulls.
So was there a little I-told-you-so feeling after not being selected for the All-Star game? No, Aldridge insisted.
“Me getting 42 tonight isn’t going to change their mind, so what is it going to do for me?” he said. “I thought tonight I just came out and got those easy dunks early and that was my big thing that got me going.”
Derrick Rose had 36 points for the Bulls, who lost their second straight. He was blunt about the problem.
“I think our offense is there, but defensively we’re terrible right now,” he said.
Chicago, which has not lost three in a row this season, visits the Jazz on Tuesday.
Aldridge’s 20-foot jumper with 1:11 left made it 100-93 and appeared to seal it for the Blazers, but Rose answered with a 3-pointer with just more than a minute to go.
Aldridge hit a turnaround jumper and Andre Miller made a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to make it 104-96. Luol Deng had a reverse layup on the other end, but the Bulls could not catch up.
“Every aspect of the defense was missing. This is two games in a row we’ve put ourselves in a bad position by not guarding,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Miller finished with 27 points and 11 assists, and he was 13 of 13 from the free throw line. The Blazers outrebounded the Bulls 41-31 and made 37 free throws to Chicago’s 11.
The Bulls (34-16) were coming off a 101-90 loss at Golden State that snapped a six-game winning streak. They dropped to 11-12 on the road.
“We’re fine, we’re fine,” Deng said. “We know what the problem is. We’ve just got to fix it.”
The injury-depleted Blazers were short again because forward Dante Cunningham fractured his right eye socket Saturday in Portland’s 111-105 victory at Cleveland. Cunningham wore special eye gear and was listed as probable against the Bulls, but did not play.
Just before the game, Brandon Roy told The Oregonian newspaper that he could return to the lineup as early as this weekend. The three-time All-Star had arthroscopic surgery on both knees three weeks ago. The team said Roy was cleared to return to practice.
Roy watched Monday night’s game on the bench dressed in street clothes, as did center Marcus Camby, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Jan. 20.
Afterward, coach Nate McMillan said Roy and Camby will practice this week, but their return is uncertain. The Blazers play at Toronto on Friday.
“So I get a chance to practice this week and if there’s no setbacks I think there’s a chance I’ll play this weekend,” Roy said.
The Bulls went on a 9-0 run to open the second quarter, capped by Ronnie Brewer’s layup to make it 35-28. Portland took the lead at 44-43 after Rudy Fernandez hit a pair of free throws and it was back and forth for the rest of the half.
Wesley Matthews scored on a fast-break dunk off an off-balance, one-handed hurl from Fernandez that made it 50-49, but Rose made one of two free throws as time wound down and the game was tied at halftime.
The Blazers came out strong in the second half, going up 63-56 early after Aldridge’s dunk. He had 16 points in the third quarter alone.
The Bulls pulled within 75-64 early in the fourth on Deng’s jumper, but the Blazers extended it again when Fernandez hit a 3-pointer to make it 80-74.
Brewer’s dunk narrowed it to 82-81 with 7:20 left but Chicago was unable to go ahead. Rose had a decisive dunk that pulled the Bulls to 91-87, but again the Blazers kept Chicago at bay.
Aldridge’s alley-oop dunk from Miller put Portland up 98-91 with 2:17 left.
The Blazers (28-24) have won two straight, but just three of their last seven.
Notes: Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman was at the game. Altman coached Chicago’s Kyle Korver at Creighton in Nebraska. … Portland shot 78.6 percent from the floor in the first quarter, but led just 28-26. … Aldridge had 40 points in the Blazers’ last game at home, a 99-86 victory over San Antonio. … Chicago has lost four straight and 11 of their last 13 at the Rose Garden.