National Basketball Association
Preview
San Antonio at Chicago
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, October 21, 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

LaMarcus Aldridge and Gregg Popovich cleared the air before the star forward signed a contract extension with the team, with Popovich vowing to make Aldridge more comfortable within the offense. Aldridge certainly looked comfortable in the season opener and will try to make it two straight strong performances when the Spurs visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

Aldridge put up 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Spurs to a 107-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and is getting a chance to lead the team with MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) slowly making his way back into game shape. Leonard sat out the opener and remains day-to-day while Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gay combine to fill the hole left by Leonard on both ends of the floor. The Bulls certainly won't have any sympathy if San Antonio remains shorthanded on Saturday as they move forward without guards Zach LaVine (knee) and Kris Dunn (finger) and forwards Nikola Mirotic (facial fractures, concussion) and Bobby Portis (suspension). Chicago dropped its opener 117-100 at Toronto on Thursday, two days after Portis was suspended for punching Mirotic in an altercation that left Mirotic hospitalized.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Southwest (San Antonio), WGN (Chicago)

ABOUT THE SPURS (1-0): Rumors swirled last season and over the summer that Aldridge was on the trade block, but instead he and the team agreed on a three-year contract extension worth a reported $72.3 million. "He just didn't feel comfortable," Popovich told reporters while explaining his conversations with Aldridge over the summer. "It's 98.75 percent on me, and whatever's left -- because I can't subtract that much -- on him. But I tried to change him. ... I tried to make him a different player, and I think that really affected his ability to feel comfortable and confident on the court. And we took care of that, basically by me letting him know that we were going to do it differently, and that it was on me, not him." Aldridge responded by outplaying Minnesota's budding star Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday while logging a team-high plus-15 rating.

ABOUT THE BULLS (0-1): The only positive to come out of the Mirotic-Portis altercation was that it opened up extra playing time for rookie Lauri Markkanen, who collected 17 points and eight rebounds over 33 minutes in his NBA debut. "I thought Lauri was really good," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. "He ran the floor well. He was OK (defensively). We want him hunting shots. What we like most about him is he has no fear out there. He can miss two or three in a row and if he has any daylight, he's going to shoot with confidence." Kay Felder, who was picked up at the end of training camp after being waived by Atlanta, added six assists in 16 minutes off the bench.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Dunn and LaVine both traveled with the Bulls to Toronto and are practicing but both expect to sit out Saturday.

2. San Antonio F/C Pau Gasol recorded three of the team's 11 blocked shots in the opener.

3. The home team took each of the last six meetings in the series, with Chicago earning a 95-91 win on its homecourt last season.

PREDICTION: Spurs 110, Bulls 96
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
San Antonio 1-0 W2 1-0 0-0 0-0 1-0 0-0 1-0
Chicago 0-1 L2 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1
Last Meeting
San Antonio Chicago
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
12/25/16 CHI 100 SA 119 119 43 56.5 100 38 45.3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
San Antonio L. Aldridge 33 75.0 3
Chicago D. Wade 24 56.2 5
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
San Antonio K. Leonard 10 4 6
Chicago T. Gibson 7 4 3
Assists Player  
San Antonio T. Parker 7
Chicago D. Wade 6
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
San Antonio L. Aldridge 25 42.9 6
Chicago R. Lopez 18 46.7 4
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
San Antonio L. Aldridge 10 5 5
Chicago R. Lopez 8 4 4
Assists Player  
San Antonio L. Aldridge 4
Chicago J. Grant 7
Quickchart Matchup
San Antonio San Antonio Off vs  Chicago Chicago Defense
San Antonio Off vs Chicago - Points For 107.0 Points For
San Antonio Off vs Chicago - Points Against 117.0 Points Against
San Antonio - FG% 46.1 FG%
Chicago - FG% 47.0 FG%
San Antonio - Reb 50.0 Reb
Chicago - Reb 49.0 Reb
Chicago Chicago Off vs  San Antonio San Antonio Defense
Chicago Off vs San Antonio - Points For 100.0 Points For
Chicago Off vs San Antonio - Points Against 99.0 Points Against
Chicago - FG% 41.6 FG%
San Antonio - FG% 43.5 FG%
Chicago - Reb 39.0 Reb
San Antonio - Reb 42.0 Reb