Chicago Bulls vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Instant Analysis of MLK Game

The Chicago Bulls had the honor of playing in Memphis for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. game that the Grizzlies host every season. How’d they fare in their venture to the Grindhouse?

Thanks to a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday evening, the Bulls snapped their three-game losing streak and got back into the win column.

For their fifth game since this past Monday (and the second game of a back-to-back set), the Bulls traveled to Memphis to take on a Memphis Grizzlies team hanging around in that second tier of Western Conference playoff teams.

The Bulls would be without Dwyane Wade (scheduled rest) and Nikola Mirotic (strep throat) on Sunday night for the MLK game, but would have Jimmy Butler back for his second game after losing 10 pounds due to a flu bug throughout the previous week.

So, how’d the shorthanded Bulls do on the road at the Grindhouse; a place they’ve actually won two of the last three times they played there? Here’s a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of what happened.

First quarter: Grizzlies led after one, 19-14

You know how every Bulls game, there’s a quarter where many find themselves thinking, “Man, that’s the worst quarter they’ve played all year”? That’s what the first quarter was on Sunday night. It was the snoozefest of all snoozefests.

How does an NBA team miss seven free throws in a quarter? Well, the Bulls found a way against the Grizzlies, who led after the opening frame by five, thanks an early burst of scoring from JaMychal Green.

As for the Bulls, they took contested shots that didn’t drop and didn’t make free throws. It was honestly as simple as that.

Oh, and Paul Zipser started again and didn’t look too bad in his first stint of the night with the starters.

And, Robin Lopez blocked a layup attempt from Mike Conley, too.

Second quarter: Bulls take a 52-46 lead into the break somehow

So, this quarter defied any sense of logic.

Why? Because Doug McDermott was hotter than a stove set to 450 degrees and jaws dropped everywhere.

No, seriously. He couldn’t miss.

McDermott scored 20 points (!) in the second quarter to help pace the Bulls for a 38-point quarter (ties their highest total in any quarter this season) after scoring their lowest point total in a quarter in the first period.

Does it make sense? No.

Was it fun? Yeah.

Did you probably laugh a little? I’d hope so.

McDermott finished the half making seven of 10 shot attempts — including making three of five shot attempts from 3-point range — for 22 points in the first half to help give the Bulls a six-point advantage with 24 minutes left.

(Oh, and LeRobin Jopez made an appearance in that second quarter, too.)

Third quarter: Bulls lead narrowed to 77-76

Vince Carter could’ve dunked over someone again, but it probably wouldn’t have been as great as Robin Lopez picking up an assist to Taj Gibson with his face.

That might be the best pass all season for the Bulls.

But, the Grizzlies won the quarter after some key 3-point shooting in the third frame and were a +5 in the quarter, 31-26.

Not only did the Grizz outshoot the Bulls in the quarter, the Bulls kind of stumped themselves in the frame. Fred Hoiberg sat McDermott for most of the third quarter for his starting unit after McDermott chipped in 22 first half points, which was pretty weird to see, but alas.

(McDermott’s three triples were the only 3-pointers of the game that fell for the Bulls in the first three quarters, as the Bulls shot 3-of-15 from deep.)

Fourth quarter: Jimmy bleepin’ Butler, y’all … Bulls win, 108-104

So, the fourth quarter.

In the frame, we got:

  • Doug McDermott breaking his career high of points in a game (31 on the night)
  • Michael Carter-Williams finishing off his best performance as a Bull (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists)
  • Jimmy Butler finishing off a clutch performance in the fourth quarter with a couple big buckets and some lockdown defense
  • Doug Collins with the worst attempt at getting Jimmy Butler’s “Jimmy Buckets” nickname that the world has ever heard

Yes, it was eventful.

The Bulls held off the Grizzlies with a 30-27 quarter, led by Butler’s huge plays down the stretch, including this:

And, this:

Butler was quiet for most of the night, but when the Bulls needed their star the most, he delivered.

Oh, and the Bulls are back to .500 at 21-21, so there’s that.

This article originally appeared on