MILWAUKEE -- Surrounded by reporters at his locker following the Chicago Bulls' fifth straight win, a 115-109 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks, Nikola Mirotic offered an update on his relationship with Bobby Portis. The two, he said, have still not spoken off the floor.
When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, "We did on the floor. We've always spoken because we need to have good communication." As for whether they've talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: "No."
But even as the two big men continue to ignore each other off the floor, they've been thriving together on it. During the Bulls' five-game winning streak -- which, coincidentally, started with Mirotic's return -- the Mirotic-Portis duo has a net rating of plus-34.3 in over 50 minutes together.
Since his return, Mirotic is averaging 20 points and 6.2 rebounds, while shooting 50 percent from 3-point land, and during the same five-game stretch, Portis is putting up 15.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and hitting 53.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
And on Friday night in Milwaukee, the duo was once again fantastic. They combined for 49 points and 20 rebounds, including the Bulls' final 11 points down the stretch. Portis, for his part, had a career-high 27 points, while Mirotic sealed the game with a big and-one with just over a minute to play that put the Bulls up by five.
"It's been crazy, to be honest," Mirotic said of the success both the duo, and the team, have been having lately. "We did play last year a little bit together, but it was not the same like now. I think we've both stepped up. We learned how to play with each other, but we need to give the credit to Fred for that. Because Fred is the one who is putting us in the right spot, Bobby and me."
Speaking a few minutes after Mirotic, Portis made it seem as though the two have moved on from the preseason incident.
"Me and Niko, we don't really care about that situation anymore. Everything's for the team," Portis told reporters. "We're professionals, we're basketball players. This is our job. Ultimately, we have to come in every day, put our shoes on like everybody else puts their shoes on, and play together, and find a way to make it work. I feel like we've done that up until that point."
Portis also added that he's happy to have Mirotic back on the floor.
"It's been fun playing with Niko. He's a hell of a player, he's been playing out of his mind ever since he's been back, and I'm happy for him. I'm happy to have him back."