Grizzlies grind on the Chicago Bulls' offense
This game had an unusual look to it, with the Chicago Bulls wearing their St. Patrick's Day green uniforms and Memphis clad in light blue. Sort of like a Titans-Jets NFL game on color rush night.
The results had a familiar feel, though. The Memphis Grizzlies rode their traditional defensive style to slow the game down and grind out a 98-91 victory at the United Center.
The inconsistent Bulls were given another problem to work with. Dwyane Wade left the game early in the fourth quarter with a sprained right elbow. After the game, he seemed worried that he could miss significant time late in the regular season.
"I just got caught going up for a rebound with Zach (Randolph) and one of our big guys and got caught up in there in the mix of stuff and just heard a couple pops," Wade said in the locker room. "Hopefully it's not as bad as I perceived it to be."
The injury appeared to happen during a sequence early in the fourth quarter when the Grizzlies rebounded two missed 3-point attempts on the same possession. Wade could be seen shaking his right arm and grimacing when Mike Conley went to the foul line and Wade left the game about a minute later.
"I tried to play through it a little bit until the pain started getting a little bit more excruciating," Wade said. "I have to get an MRI tomorrow morning and see what it is.
"My concern is there's only 14 games left. I've never had this, so I can't say two days, two weeks. I don't know. I know Jimmy (Butler) had something similar to this before. I don't like what he had to say about this."
Butler hyperextended his left elbow late in the 2014-15 season and missed 11 games.
"Hopefully it's not what I had. I know the pain, I can tell you that much," Butler said. "It's tough. We need everybody right now for what we're trying to have happen, especially that guy. I wouldn't wish that on anybody."
The Bulls (32-36) erased a 14-point deficit but couldn't hit enough big shots down the stretch. Conley and Marc Gasol led Memphis (38-30) with 27 points each.
Rajon Rondo started at point guard for the second consecutive game and led the Bulls with 17 points and 8 rebounds, but he couldn't inject enough life in the offense against the Grizzlies' grinding style.
Rondo did energize the building in the final minute of the third quarter by throwing a perfect alley-oop pass to Butler from beyond midcourt. Rondo also knocked down 3 baskets from 3-point range and has hit 11 of his last 18 shots from long range.
Butler remained in an offensive slump, though, hitting just 4 of 16 shots for 14 points.
"It will go in one of these times. I've got to keep taking it," Butler said. "Find a way to get some easy looks and see that ball go in the basket. It gets better from there."
Conley drained a 3-pointer to put Memphis up 89-83 with 3:41 remaining. A Rondo 3-pointer pulled the Bulls within 91-89 with 2:10 left, but the Bulls got crossmatched on defense and left Tony Allen wide open under the basket for a dunk. After a Rondo 3-pointer went halfway down and out, a Gasol 3 with 1:12 left sealed the outcome.
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