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Grizzlies 80, Bulls 71

The SportsXchange

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

The Griz, the NBA's best defensive team, held Chicago to 37.3 percent field goal shooting and outrebounded the Bulls by 12 in a 80-71 victory Monday night at FedEx Forum.

Strong bench play by the Grizzlies rallied Memphis from a nine-point first-quarter deficit, and the Griz (16-6) never trailed after reserve guard Wayne Ellington hit three straight 3-pointers, the last coming 5:35 before halftime to take the lead for good.

Point guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 17 points. Rudy Gay, who scored on a key drive late, rallied to finish with 12 points. Forward Zach Randolph had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Forward Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls (13-10). Guard Marco Belinelli added 13 and Joakim Noah and Luol Deng scored 11 each.

Gay and Randolph, who together average 39.6 points, combined for just two points in the first half. And that came with Randolph's 12-footer with 37.7 seconds left in the first half.

Despite Gay's and Randolph's terrible shooting - 1-for-11 between them - Memphis led 39-34 at the half after trailing 20-11 at the end of the first quarter. The Bulls' starters, showing more energy and quicker ball movement, held Memphis to 18.2 percent field goal shooting in the first quarter.

But the Griz bench breathed life into a sluggish effort by the starters. A couple of Quincy Pondexter hustle plays, four rebounds and a drawn charge by Marreese Speights, steady floor play by Jerryd Bayless and 11 points in 12 minutes by sharpshooting Elllington helped the Griz double the Bulls (28-14) in second-quarter scoring.

Memphis extended its lead to 61-53 at the end of the third period. A 7-2 run in the final 2:36, with Randolph scoring twice including a rare dunk, gave the Griz momentum heading into the final period.

NOTES: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn't give many hints about guard Derrick Rose's knee rehab, saying he 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. ... Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was clearly worried about the Bulls' front line of Noah, Carlos and Deng. "They're big, long, talented, smart and have high motors," Hollins said. "Noah never quits on any play."
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