Grizzlies 80, Bulls 71

The Memphis Grizzlies were struggling early against the stingy

Chicago Bulls, taking bad shots and committing turnovers.

Then the Grizzlies’ bench took over, providing the burst that

helped Memphis beat the Bulls 80-71 on Monday night.

”I thought it was huge what they did,” Grizzlies guard Mike

Conley said of the second-period play by the reserves. ”They came

in and changed the game, changed the tempo. They got it going up

and down a little bit. Got the ball movement where we like it to

be.

”I think the first unit saw what they were doing, and what they

were able to do,” Conley said. ”(We) got back in the game and

tried to mimic it.”

Conley led Memphis with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and four

assists, while Zach Randolph added 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Rudy Gay had 12 points for Memphis but shot 5 of 13, continuing

his slump. Wayne Ellington scored all 11 of his points in the

second quarter, when the Grizzlies’ reserves provided the lift

after a sluggish first period, when Memphis managed only 11 points

for its lowest output in the opening quarter this season.

Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 16 points and 13 rebounds,

while Marco Belinelli finished with 13 points. Luol Deng and Joakim

Noah had 11 points apiece for the Bulls, but Deng was 4 of 17 from

the field.

”I thought our defense was pretty good,” Noah said, adding:

”We are getting good stops, and we are getting on the break, but

we are just not getting those easy points. We are turning the ball

over a little bit too much on the break. If we can score on those,

we can be better.”

Both teams shot just better than 37 percent. But Memphis was 6

of 11 from 3-point range compared to the Bulls hitting only 2 of 11

long-range shots. The Memphis frontline of Gay, Randolph and Marc

Gasol were a combined 10 of 34, while the Bulls starting frontline

of Deng, Boozer and Noah made 16 of 42.

Memphis controlled the boards 51-39 and had 18 offensive

rebounds.

”I thought the second quarter was the problem,” Chicago coach

Tom Thibodeau said. ”We were outscored 28-14. We had a great first

quarter, terrible second quarter and got outrebounded on the

road.”

The Grizzlies shot just 4 of 22 in the first quarter and had six

turnovers causing them to fall behind.

But the Memphis bench brought an energy in the second that was

missing from the starters. Quincy Pondexter, Jerryd Bayless and

Ellington contributed on the offensive end, hitting all five of

their shots from 3-point range in the period.

Ellington had 11 points in the second to lead Memphis to a 39-34

lead at the break, the Grizzlies biggest lead of the half.

”As a second unit, we just try to come in and be aggressive and

bring some intensity and share the basketball,” Ellington said.

”Tonight, it was coming my way, and I was knocking down shots.

”When you see a couple go down, as a basketball player, it’s

kind of natural to just get in that zone,” Ellington continued.

”I got pretty hot in the first half.”

Boozer had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and

grabbed eight rebounds for Chicago in the half.

The leading scorers on both teams were struggling at that point.

Deng, who averages 17.8 per game, was limited to four points on 2

of 7 from the field.

Gay, meanwhile, missed all six of his shots in the half and was

scoreless.

Memphis extended the lead to 61-53 entering the fourth, as

Conley scored seven in the third. Noah had six points for

Chicago.

Marreese Speights connected on a tip-in to open the fourth for

the first double-digit lead of the game at 63-53.

Chicago turned up the defensive pressure at that point, becoming

much more active in challenging the Grizzlies and pushing them to

uncomfortable passes.

”You’ve got to give them credit,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins

said. ”They defend everybody. You look at what they’re missing

with (injured players) Richard Hamilton and Derrick Rose out, and

they still win games because they defend you and make you earn

everything.”

The Bulls tried to get Deng involved in the fourth, but he hit

only 3 of 12 shots by the time the game reached the midway point of

the final quarter.

Chicago got within five points when Jimmy Butler scored on a

breakaway dunk with 5:05 left. Memphis then extended the lead back

to double digits, providing enough of a buffer for the Grizzlies to

win their second straight.

”We’ll take it,” Randolph said. ”It wasn’t pretty, but we got

the win.”

NOTES: Thibodeau said before the game that Rose’s rehab of his

left knee injury continues on schedule. There is no timetable for

his return, he said. … Rose, who played one year at the

University of Memphis before turning pro, has returned to play at

the FedExForum only twice in his five years in the league. .Chicago

is 2-9 all-time in Memphis. . Bulls starting G Kirk Hinrich

returned after missing two games with a bruised left knee. ”It

didn’t’ feel as good as I would like to by any means, but it was

good enough to go out there and play.” … There was a 27 second

moment of silence before the National Anthem – 26 for each of the

victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting and another for a Memphis

police officer killed while serving a search warrant on Friday only

hours before the Newtown slayings. . The 71 points was a season-low

for Chicago. The previous low was 76 against Indiana on Dec. 4. …

Gay’s 12 points ended his streak of consecutive games with at least

14 points at 24.