Chicago Bulls

Nikola Mirotic’s loss is Bobby Portis’ gain — for now

One player’s fall offers the opportunity for another to rise.

And so it is with Bobby Portis, who remained ahead of Nikola Mirotic in the rotation for a second straight game after Portis didn’t play by coach’s decision the previous four games.

“It’s always difficult to sit and watch the guys play,” Portsi said. “At the same time, I just tried to keep myself ready. I’m a team guy first. I want to play, but I just want to win.”

During Portis’ previous rotational turn, he logged most of his minutes at center alongside Mirotic, who wasn’t scheduled to play even before forgetting about and getting fined for missing the team’s mandatory walkthrough Friday evening. Now Portis is logging minutes at power forward alongside Cristiano Felicio.

“I don’t really care which position I play,” Portis said. “I was guarding guys who were much taller and stronger than me, but I’m a competitive guy.”

That trait is what stood out to coach Fred Hoiberg during Portis’ return to the rotation Thursday night in Milwaukee. Hoiberg cited Portis’ sprinting the floor and strong screen-setting as aids in the Bulls’ fourth-quarter comeback bid.

“I thought Bobby gave us great energy,” Hoiberg said.

Hoiberg said the rotation is fluid. On Friday, Portis finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes in the Bulls’ 95-69 loss to the Bucks.

Holiday season: Michael Carter-Williams said a return around Christmas is a realistic goal after the soft cast that had been protecting a bone chip in his left wrist was removed Friday.

“I’m going to do some strength exercises this week and then try to get back on the (practice) court if everything feels right,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m free to do individual workouts. I’m running with (director of sports performance) Chip (Schaefer) a lot, just trying to stay in shape so when I’m ready to come back (to practice) hopefully it won’t take me long to get back to playing (games).”

Carter-Williams has been sidelined since Oct. 31, when he sprained his left wrist and suffered a bone bruise in his left knee. Hoiberg said the guard will have a prominent rotation role.

“I think Coach has a lot of confidence in me,” Carter-Williams said. “I really take pride in the defensive end. I want to help the team.”

Charity stripe: The Bulls shot 22 free throws in Thursday’s matchup against the Bucks, the 15th time they have attempted 20 or more. That is tied with the Clippers for the league lead.

The Bulls entered Friday shooting 80.5 percent from the line, fourth-best in the NBA.

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