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Blazers emulate Bulls’ defense-first mentality

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: November 21, 2014, 12:00am

TUALATIN, Ore. — When the Portland Trail Blazers host Chicago at the Moda Center on Friday night, the Bulls may be without stars Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol.

But what’s carried over for the Bulls, since Tom Thibodeau became head coach, has been their commitment to defense. That’s something that the Blazers have worked hard to emulate over the past few seasons under Terry Stotts.

“When we tried to turn the page last season we used Indiana and Chicago and San Antonio as examples,” Stotts said about the Bulls. “Certainly they’ve set the standard defensively over the last few years.”

LaMarcus Aldridge, who says he no longer thinks about sticking it to the team that traded him on draft day in 2006, says the Bulls represent where the Blazers want to be defensively.

“I don’t think you want to be someone else but I think that they definitely play at a level that we want to play at defensively,” Aldridge said. “They compete every play, they have great rim protection, the guards compete in pick and rolls. So I think that’s a direction that we’re trying to go in.”

The Bulls are currently seventh in the NBA in defensive efficiency, which is the number of points allowed per 100 possessions. The Blazers rank eighth, allowing 100.6 points per 100 possessions. For perspective, Houston ranks best at 94.6, while the Los Angeles Lakers are worst at 113.4.

The Blazers (8-3) have won six consecutive games against the Bulls (8-4).

• Batum update: On Thursday, Stotts said Nicolas Batum, who hurt his knee last week, was a full-go at practice and that “he had a good day.” He is expected to play Friday after missing the past four games.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer