With the Bulls concentrating defensively on Memphis forward Pau Gasol, Miller scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Friday night to lead the Grizzlies over the Bulls 95-77.
“They tried to take me out of the game a little bit and limit my touches,” Gasol said, “but it didn’t work out very well for them. Mike and me were talking about it, and we couldn’t figure it out.”
Miller was 8-of-15 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range. Gasol added 19 points, shooting 6-of-9. The Grizzlies’ leading scorer added 11 boards, four blocks and five assists.
“(Chicago guard Kirk) Hinrich was just leaving (Miller) like he was nobody out there,” Gasol said. “Mike was hitting them, and I’m happy to make that pass and see the ball going through the net.”
Memphis held a double-digit lead for much of the game as Miller and Shane Battier made the Bulls pay for doubling-down on Gasol.
“Evidently, their goal tonight was to take him out of the game,” Miller said. “Any time he gets guys open shots like he did, he’s an All-Star.”
Chicago cut the lead to 83-74 when Andres Nocioni hit a pair of free throws with 5:47 left, but the Grizzlies answered with 3-pointers from Damon Stoudamire and Miller around a pair of free throws by Miller to rebuild the lead to 91-76 with just under 4 minutes to play.
“We lost Miller all over the place,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “The guy got a hot hand, and we just weren’t cognizant of where he was and didn’t play him well enough.”
Battier added 13 points, and Lorenzen Wright scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Memphis, which won for the third time in the last four. Chicago has lost four of five.
“It’s tough when our defense is struggling, and we’re also not making shots like that,” said Bulls guard Chris Duhon, who had four points.
Duhon and Hinrich, who combine to average 12.5 assists, managed only one in the game, by Hinrich.
The Grizzlies led 28-23 after the first quarter, and the Bulls were stuck on 23 for almost six minutes to start the second quarter. They missed their first seven shots of the period before Hinrich hit a 3-pointer with 6:16 left in the half. Chicago missed 10 of its first 11 shots in the period as Memphis built the lead to 17.
Memphis didn’t hit a field goal in the final seven minutes of the half, allowing Chicago to close with a 10-2 run and cut the Grizzlies’ advantage to 45-36 at the break. Miller had 13 points for Memphis, while no Bulls were in double figures.
Chicago, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, was 3-of-14 from behind the arc for the game.
Memphis built the lead to 17 again on several occasions in the third period and held a 71-59 entering the fourth. Meanwhile, Ben Gordon, the Bulls’ second-leading scorer, didn’t record his first point until 29 seconds were left in the quarter, and he hit one of three free throws to register that point. He finished with five points.
“Sometimes you make them, sometimes you miss them. That was the case tonight,” Gordon said. “I thought we got a lot of good looks, but it just wasn’t falling for us.”
Battier left the game with 11:33 left in the second quarter with a cut over his right eye that required six stitches, two short of his season high of eight stitches to the head earlier this season at Orlando. He returned later in the quarter. … The game was the last of a five-game homestand for Memphis. The Grizzlies go out West for four starting in Utah on Monday. … Memphis G Eddie Jones missed his second game with a right ankle injury. Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello reiterated prior to the game that there is no timetable for the return of either Jones or reserve G Bobby Jackson (hamstring), although Jones was a game-time decision. … The Bulls’ reserves entered the game having outscored the opponents’ bench in 24 of their first 25 games. Chicago’s bench outscored Memphis 36-17. …The Bulls never pulled even or led in the game, marking the first time this season that has happened.