Bulls-Grizzlies Preview

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.