Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Defensive-minded Grizzlies shut down Bulls

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- On a night when the Memphis Grizzlies didn't have their top offensive form, they still had enough to pull out a victory.

The Grizzlies, one of the NBA's best defensive teams, held Chicago to 19 points or fewer in each of the final three quarters to ease past the Bulls 80-71 Monday night at FedExForum.

It didn't matter that the Grizzlies (16-6) shot just 37.3 percent from the field, or that they committed 19 turnovers, leading to 13 Chicago points. Or that the Bulls' starters outscored the Grizzlies' starters 56-49.

Memphis turned up its defensive pressure, particularly in the second quarter, when the Grizzlies outscored the Bulls 28-14. That turned a 20-11 deficit at the end of the first period into 39-34 Grizzlies' halftime lead.

"We weren't going to win the game the way we were playing offensively," said Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting but also had 11 rebounds. "So it was either play good defense or lose."

The Memphis offense was adequate at best. Point guard Mike Conley had a team-high 17 points, and forward Zach Randolph extended his NBA-leading number of double-doubles to 18 thanks to 10 points and 15 rebounds.

However, the Grizzlies limited the Bulls (13-10) to 37.3 percent from the field, including 2-for-11 on 3-point attempts. Memphis also pounded Chicago on the boards, 51-39.

"I said before the game that it was going to be a slugfest between two pretty good teams," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "Chicago doesn't take a possession off on defense. You have to go and earn everything you get against them. They are missing Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton, and they still win games because they defend."

The Bulls' defense went missing for a stretch in the second quarter. The Grizzlies opened the period on an 11-2 run to pull into a 22-22 tie on a Wayne Ellington 18-foot jumper.

Then, Ellington, whose 3-point shooting stroke has returned in the past week after a month's vacation, drilled three straight 3-pointers. His last, with 5:35 left in the first half, gave Memphis the lead for good at 31-28.

"I'd gotten away from getting more legs into my shot, and my arc had been flat," said Ellington, who scored all 11 of his points on the night in the quarter. He's hit 10 of his past 14 3-point attempts. "My arc had been flat. I needed to get more arc and follow through."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who was quite pleased with his team's toughness, energy and ball movement in the first quarter, watched the momentum switch after that.

"The whole game changed in the second quarter," Thibodeau said. "When you come here to Memphis, you know it's going to be a hard-fought game against a tough team, so you have to play with force. You have to cut hard, you have to move the ball. You have to take care of the ball."

The Bulls didn't do any of those things consistently. Not even 16 points and 13 rebounds from Carlos Boozer could prevent Chicago from producing a season-low point total.

"We've got to get better at scoring in transition," said Bulls forward Joakim Noah, who had 10 points and seven rebounds. "We're getting good stops and we are getting on the break, but we're turning the ball over a bit too much on the break."

NOTES: Memphis scored 11 first-quarter points, its lowest output in any quarter this season. ... The Grizzlies have held 21 straight opponents to fewer than 100 points. The Clippers scored 101 points in a season-opening win over Memphis. ... Thibodeau didn't drop many hints about guard Derrick Rose's knee rehab, saying Rose wasn't ahead or behind schedule. Rose, who led the University of Memphis to the 2008 NCAA championship game, has played just twice in Memphis as a pro. ... The Grizzlies assigned second-year guard Josh Selby to Reno of the D-League and recalled rookie guard Tony Wroten from Reno. ... In the past week, the Grizzlies' new ownership fired Tony Barone Sr. and Tony Barone Jr. from the team's scouting department and hired ESPN stats analyst John Hollinger as vice president of basketball operations, as well as Stu Lash as director of player personnel and basketball development.
Watch Sin City Saints
View Comments (0)