Bulls-Grizzlies Preview

The Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies are starting to look more like the team that reached last season's Western Conference finals.

That's not likely to change against the visiting Chicago Bulls.

The Grizzlies go for a fourth win in five tries Monday night when they attempt to continue their home dominance of the Bulls.

Memphis (13-16) set a franchise record with 56 wins last season and advanced to the conference finals, only to be swept by San Antonio. The Grizzlies have struggled to build on that success in 2013-14, but have shown signs of turning things around.

They've won three of four games following a season-high five-game slide, and they're coming off their most impressive offensive display of the season.

Memphis beat Denver 120-99 on Saturday, hitting 51.6 percent from the field, including 8 of 19 from 3-point range

"Teams know that we're going to play hard and, regardless of our record, we're going to be a tough out," said guard Mike Conley, who had 14 points. "We've always been a thorn in the side of a lot of teams. Hopefully, we're starting to get back to that."

That's certainly been the case at home against Chicago (11-17).

The Grizzlies have won 12 of the past 14 home matchups with the Bulls, holding them to an average of 88.9 points. They took the latest matchup there 80-71 on Dec. 17, 2012, limiting the Bulls to 2 of 11 from beyond the arc and 37.3 percent shooting overall.

Zach Randolph has been key to Memphis' recent success, averaging 22.5 points and 12.0 rebounds over the past four games. The forward hasn't come close to being that effective offensively in his last three meetings with Chicago, scoring 8.3 points per game while making just 11 of 39 field goals.

The Bulls have lost eight of 11 games while averaging 85.8 points, and they're expected to be without Luol Deng for a fifth straight game due to a lingering sore left Achilles.

"In the past, I would've been out there and playing and then missing another month or so, and I really don't want to do that," said Deng, who leads the team with 19.6 points per game while pulling down 7.0 boards with 4.1 assists.

Chicago will try to bounce back from Saturday's 105-83 home loss to Dallas, making just 3 of 17 from long range. The Bulls had won the previous two games while shooting 51.0 percent from the field - 46.9 from 3-point range.

"Whenever you feel too good about yourself somebody smacks you," said forward Taj Gibson, who had 13 points against the Mavericks after totaling 35 in the prior two games. "That's a part of the NBA."

Joakim Noah is looking to build on his 20 points and 10 rebounds from Saturday, but he's had a tough time in nine career meetings with the Grizzlies. He's averaged 5.3 points and 5.3 boards against them, and that includes totaling 21 and 14 in two losses last season.

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