Bulls-Grizzlies Preview

The Associated Press

It's possible that the first team to 91 points could win Monday night's matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls.

Both these teams are allowing 90.9 points per game, and a huge dose of defense can be expected with the Bulls in search of a fifth straight road win.

Memphis (15-6) and Chicago (13-9) rank second and third in the NBA in points yielded per game. It actually takes three decimal places to separate them with the Grizzlies allowing an average of 90.857 and the Bulls 90.864.

Both clubs credited defense for their latest victories.

Chicago closed on a 12-5 run in Saturday's 83-82 home win over Brooklyn, with a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer the only basket allowed by the Bulls over the final 5 1/2 minutes.

"We played great defense the last three or four minutes,'' guard Marco Belinelli said. "That's why we won the game."

Memphis ended a season-high three-game slide the same night with a 99-86 victory at Utah, limiting the Jazz to 32 second-half points to erase a 10-point deficit at the break.

"We had to get back to what we do, and that's defensive pressure,'' guard Mike Conley said. "It was frustrating. It was hard to look at us play so well and the last week play so bad."

There are other similarities between these teams, with both shooting 44.2 percent from the field while their benches rank among the league's worst in points per game with Chicago producing 25.7 and Memphis 24.8.

Although the reserves haven't been a major factor, they were Saturday for both teams.

The Grizzlies received 25 bench points, with eight from Marreese Speights and a season-high eight rebounds from Iranian center Hamed Haddadi.

Bulls first-round pick Marquis Teague had a season-high eight points, including two baskets in the game-ending surge. Teague had played sparingly before collecting 14 points and six assists over his last two contests.

"It was fun, it was exciting," Teague said. "It lets you know your coach has confidence in you and you want to go out there and do whatever you can, do what it takes to win."

Teague will likely get some playing time against Conley in a point guard matchup featuring former Indianapolis high school stars. Both are known for defense, and Conley is third in the league with 2.4 steals per game.

In the paint, top rebounders Zach Randolph of Memphis and Joakim Noah of Chicago will try to help their teams control the glass.

Randolph leads the Western Conference with 12.6 rebounds per game after he had 25 points and 16 boards against the Jazz. Noah is averaging 10.6 rebounds - 12.8 over his last six contests.

The home team has dominated this series, winning 25 of 33 meetings. The Bulls are 2-9 all-time in Memphis.

The Grizzlies have won 13 of their last 14 against East foes.

Memphis forward Darrell Arthur is day to day after sitting out Saturday with a mild concussion.

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