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updated: 12/17/2012 11:38 PM

Grizzlies hold down Bulls in a big way

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  • The Bulls' Jimmy Butler gets to an offensive rebound in front of the Grizzlies' Wayne Ellington (3) and Marreese Speights (5).

      The Bulls' Jimmy Butler gets to an offensive rebound in front of the Grizzlies' Wayne Ellington (3) and Marreese Speights (5).
    Associated Press

 
 

This doesn't come with any corporate sponsor money, but a good nickname for Memphis' FedEx Forum on Monday night would have been, "The Grindhouse."

It's not often a team can allow just 80 points and get blown out. Well, not blown out in the normal sense. But this was one of those slow-moving, defensive games where a 9-point lead felt like 19.

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This was a true flashback to the pre-Derrick Rose era, when the Bulls had no successful options against playoff-quality defense. The Memphis Grizzlies shut everything down and beat the Bulls 80-71.

The visitors started well, opening a 20-11 lead after the first quarter. For the rest of the contest, they scored an average of 17 points per quarter and shot 33 percent from the field.

When the going got tough, the Bulls had nowhere to go. Luol Deng hit 4 of 17 shots. Carlos Boozer led the way with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but scored just 2 points in the fourth quarter.

"The thing is, they're a tough team. So you've got to fight," coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. "You've got to know what you're doing. You've got to make the right reads. You've got to sometimes give yourself up. You've got to cut with force. You've got to replace with force.

"You've got to make the right play. You've got to be willing to move the ball. You do that, you're going to get good shots. When you don't do that, you're going to take tough shots."

Memphis (16-6) found a couple of things that worked. The Grizzlies knocked down 5 straight 3-point shots in the second quarter and controlled the offensive rebounds 18-10. Zach Randolph (10 points, 15 boards), grabbed some key rebounds while working against two or three Bulls.

The Grizzlies shot 18.1 percent in the first quarter (4-for-22) but turned things around quickly. The Bulls settled for some outside shots early in the second and couldn't get one to fall, while Memphis lit up from long range like Beale Street in holiday mode.

The comeback started with a pair of long jumpers by Jerryd Bayless, but the worst was still to come. On four straight possessions, former Minnesota shooting guard Wayne Ellington drilled shots from long range. The last 3 were 3-pointers to put Memphis ahead 31-28.

"The whole game changed in the second quarter," Thibodeau said. "We didn't cover the (3-point) line. We let guys get loose, not reading penetrating drives and flat drives, over-helping, not recognizing what's going on in the game. Throwing possessions away.

"You can't do that against a quality team, not against any team. We let Ellington play to his strength. It's tough to overcome that."

Kirk Hinrich returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with a bruised left knee. He hit 2 of 8 shots for 4 points. Rookie Marquis Teague, who played well in wins over Philadelphia and Brooklyn while Hinrich was out, did not play.

The Bulls (13-10) never recovered from the second-quarter barrage. They trailed 61-53 by the end of the third quarter, then fell behind by 10 when Mareese Speights opened the fourth with a jumper.

The Bulls had two chances while trailing by 5 points. Hinrich missed a 3-pointer, and Boozer had a bead on the offensive rebound but was out-hustled to the ball by Mike Conley. Then they went inside to Deng, who had his shot blocked by Marc Gasol with 3:35 left.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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