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Trail Blazers rout Bulls in first game without Nurkic

Seth Curry scores a season-high 20 points in 118-98 win

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Portland Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman, right, blocks a shot by Chicago Bulls guard Antonio Blakeney during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman, right, blocks a shot by Chicago Bulls guard Antonio Blakeney during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) Photo Gallery

CHICAGO (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers got a feel-good moment before the game when they face-timed with Jusuf Nurkic and followed that up with an easy victory. Considering the circumstances, it was definitely not a bad night.

Seth Curry scored a season-high 20 points and the Trail Blazers beat the Chicago Bulls 118-98 on Wednesday night.

Still shaken by Nurkic’s gruesome leg injury two nights earlier in a double-overtime victory over Brooklyn that secured their sixth straight playoff appearance, the Blazers made it look easy against a short-handed team.

Curry made four 3-pointers, Rodney Hood added 15 points, and Enes Kanter and Zach Collins each had 13. Portland won its fifth in a row even though Damian Lillard scored a season-low 11.

Seeing Nurkic gave them just the lift they needed, even if there were some audio issues.

“It was cool,” Curry said. “It was a little awkward. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear. The volume wasn’t working so we couldn’t hear what he was saying. But it was good to let him know we were thinking about him before we headed out there. That pregame huddle was a good moment for everybody.”

Chicago’s Shaquille Harrison set career highs with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Robin Lopez had 15 points and nine rebounds. But with mostly reserves in the lineup, the Bulls lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Chicago announced afterward forward Lauri Markkanen will miss the remainder of the season after experiencing a rapid heart rate and fatigue.

Markkanen remained overnight in Toronto after exiting Tuesday night’s loss to the Raptors. He was evaluated in the training room by the Bulls’ medical staff and Toronto’s team physician and underwent more tests at a hospital. He also was examined Wednesday in Chicago and will miss the remaining six games.

Markkanen joins a long list of unavailable Bulls players. Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison and Denzel Valentine all had season-ending injuries.

Leading scorer Zach LaVine (bruised right thigh, right knee tendinitis), Otto Porter Jr. (strained right rotator cuff) and Kris Dunn (back) were unavailable Wednesday.

“(It’s) very tough, because you got some of our core guys that’s out right now,” Harrison said. “But it’s the NBA. And the next guy is the reason why these guys are on a roster, the reason why I’m on a roster. Because when your time is called, it’s time to step up. And you can’t really complain about much and keep it forward and try to get some wins.”

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Coach Terry Stotts said Nurkic was hoping to head home Wednesday or Thursday. … The Trail Blazers held Phoenix to nine points in the first quarter on Dec. 6.

Bulls: Coach Jim Boylen said Markkanen was in his office at 2 p.m. and wanted to play against Portland. … The Bulls’ previous low for points in the first quarter was 16 against Orlando on Jan. 2. Their low for any quarter was seven against Houston on Nov. 3.

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