Backups getting some good experience, but Bulls lose fourth straight

  • Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.

    Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. Associated Press

Updated 1/17/2022 7:15 PM

An ugly week continued for the Bulls on Monday in Memphis. Maybe the best possible spin on their four-game losing streak is playing short-handed could pay dividends once everyone is back.

The Bulls were competitive at times, but had bursts of sloppiness on both ends and the Grizzlies rolled to a 119-106 victory, their 12th win in 13 games.


Nothing went great for the Bulls without Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and others, but there were some positive signs, especially with rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu.

Dosunmu guarded Memphis star Ja Morant for most of the game and held his own. The South Side second-rounder also stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks and 4 turnovers.

The Bulls may not win many games with this lineup, but Dosunmu and Coby White getting a brief run as the team's starting backcourt could make the bench more dangerous later in the season.

"Yeah, I love playing with Ayo," said White, who had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. "I feel like especially when we're not starting and we come in, we bring a lot of energy to the game.

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"I feel like it's a chance to grow. It's an opportunity we didn't have earlier in the year. I feel like we're just taking it day by day and just trying to grow and develop and get better for the team."

Both teams finished with 18 turnovers, but the Grizzlies did a better job of cashing them in. They won the points off turnovers 21-12, fast-break points 26-9 and points in the paint 64-38.

"For us right now, our margin for error is not great," coach Billy Donovan said. "So turnovers here, offensive rebounds, couple easy transition points. We have to eliminate those things, the easy baskets, because for us it's going to be hard to generate easy baskets. We've got to be really meticulous and good at taking care of the ball, defensive rebounding and getting back."

Memphis (31-15) proved to be a tough matchup, because they're aggressive defensively, trapping all over the floor in an unpredictable manner. They also play with two big men in center Steven Adams and power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Bulls don't have the personnel to match up.


DeMar DeRozan played in a crowd the entire game and had to work hard to score 24 points on 10 of 24 shooting. Center Nikola Vucevic had a rough shooting day, hitting 2 of 13 shots for 7 points.

The bench players fared a little better, with Troy Brown Jr., Matt Thomas and newcomer Malcolm Hill combining to hit 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range. Hill finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds after being added as a two-way player earlier in the day. The Bulls released point guard Devon Dotson.

"We're just trying to continue to build good habits, with whatever we've got," White said. "Like coach always says, no matter who's out on the court, as long as we have five guys who play hard, we're going to have a chance to win any game. That's how we feel. We have a lot of people out, but we're not using that as an excuse."

Frustration boiled over a couple of times in this game. Donovan got a technical foul in the third quarter for arguing the lack of a foul call.

In the fourth, Tony Bradley was called for a foul and wrapped up Morant on a drive. When Bradley didn't let go right away, Morant shoved the ball into Bradley's face. After video review, Bradley was given a flagrant 1 foul for sticking his leg out as Morant tried to get by him and both players got technicals.

Morant and Desmond Bane led Memphis with 25 points each.

The Bulls (27-15) expect to get Caruso back on Wednesday against Cleveland and maybe Javonte Green later in the week. The timeline is unclear on LaVine and Ball, who are both dealing with knee soreness.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports


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