TORONTO — After sitting out eight games for clocking a teammate in practice, Bobby Portis couldn't wait to return to action with the Chicago Bulls.
"I was ready. I didn't even sleep last night," he told reporters after leading the Bulls with 21 points off the bench in a 119-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. "I was just really giddy before the game.
"I got my dream taken away from me for three weeks. I don't want to get my dream taken away from me any more."
The 22-year-old power forward missed the first eight games through suspension after an Oct. 17 altercation in practice that left Nikola Mirotic with two facial fractures. Mirotic remains out injured.
Portis, who said it felt like his first game at the University of Arkansas all over again, stayed off social media in the leadup to his return after felling his teammate in a practice session that boiled over.
"I'm not going to stop being myself," Portis said. "The situation happened, like I always said."
Portis led a late comeback with 14 points in the fourth quarter on six-of-10 shooting. The Bulls, who had trailed by as many as 23 points, outscored the Raptors 33-21 in the quarter but could not reel them in.
Portis, who played 24 minutes 23 seconds, was good on eight of 13 shots including three of five three-point attempts. The Chicago bench accounted for 58 points.
"Bobby gave us a great lift out there," said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. "He played with great emotion and went out there and gave us energy when we needed it."
Portis was influential in the final minutes. After gathering in his own defensive rebound, he scored on a turnaround hook shot to close the gap to 115-112 with less than a minute remaining. He was called for offensive interference trying to ram a ball down in the dying seconds with the Bulls down by five.
"He's a handful," said Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan. "He's a solid player. He's got great touch on his jump shot and he came and played well for them."
Portis came into the game midway through the first quarter after Finnish rookie Lauri Markkanen picked up two early fouls.
Fouled by DeRozan, Portis made one of two free throws to open his season account. After another free throw, the six-foot-11 250-pounder played provider with a nice bounce pass to set up centre Robin Lopez. Then he drained a three with a nice sidestep to avoid a defender.
Portis, who finished the first quarter with five points, showed his athleticism with a put-back in the second after the ball bounced out from a teammate's shot.
Portis played 8:42 of the first half, collecting seven points as the Bulls went into the locker-room trailing Toronto 65-45.
Held off the score sheet in a short appearance in the third, he notched two more three-pointers in a productive fourth.
After the game, Portis slowly pulled on his skinny jeans and a Givenchy hoodie that had seen better days. And he recalled some wisdom from his mother.
"I respect the game of basketball. I respect the basketball gods," he said. "My mom always told me ... if you rebound the basketball, the basketball gods reward you. So that helped me."
Portis led the Bulls with 13 rebounds and added four assists.
Chicago (2-7) was coming off a 96-90 overtime loss to the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Toronto thumped the visiting Bulls 117-100 in the season opener.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press