In a game that featured two teams known for their hardnosed defense, Memphis fell to the Chicago Bulls 95-91 on Monday night in one of the uglier basketball games you'll see all season.
Carlos Boozer led the way for Chicago with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 26. Mike Conley had 26 of his own, coming close to a triple-double with 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 6 steals. James Johnson, who really struggled shooting the ball, filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and two steals.
Once again, the Grizzlies were done in by the fact that they simply cannot play competent offense for a full 48 minutes. They controlled the pace and unwatchability of the game for about the first 15 minutes, leading by as many as eight, and holding Chicago under 20 points in the first quarter. The Bulls made a 14-5 run to take a two-point lead, and headed into halftime leading by two, thanks to an incredibly bone-headed foul on a three point shot 50-feet from the basket by Tayshaun Prince. Mike Dunleavy was merely attempting a heave to end the half, and Prince got to close and over anxious, running into him, and giving up three points.
The third quarter saw the wheels fall off for Memphis. From the opening possession of the period, to the 3:10 mark, the Grizzlies managed a mere four points, or two points every four minutes and twenty-five seconds. That's pathetic, and won't win you any games in the NBA. The Bulls are a great defensive team, even with their injuries, and part of the blame for the lack of production can be placed at the feed of Tom Tibedeau's men, but you simply cannot let Memphis off the hook for that sort of disgusting performance.
The Grizzlies would make a run, largely on the shoulders of Mike Conley and James Johnson. The two would combine for 13 points over the last three minutes of the quarter pulling Memphis to within seven. Memphis would cut the lead to as little as one point, before surrendering a back-breaking three pointer as the shot clock expired, and then never getting back within three points the rest of the game.
What I liked from this game: James Johnson. He had a terrible shooting night, 4-13, with most of those misses coming in the first half, but he was relentless in attacking the basket late in the game, and Memphis would have lost by 12 had he not kept putting his head down and driving to the hole. He filled up the stat sheet in his time on the floor, and continues to impress everyone, from fans to coaches to Jimmy Butler.
What I didn't like: Zach Randolph. Where were you big fella? 4-15 for only 10 points isn't going to get it done, especially when you throw 5 turnovers in there. Again, part of this is the Bulls defense, but Zach is a big boy, he has to perform better than that if Memphis is going to win these types of games.
Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
- This is one of those games were +/- doesn't really tell the whole story. Tony Allen played a really good game, and did a fantastic job of denying Mike Dunleavy the Ball and keeping Jimmy Butler in check after he had feasted on Jerryd Bayless, but he finished with a line of -13.
- Memphis made zero three pointers, and the best shooter on their team (with respect to my man Farmers Only) only took one 3-point shot.
- There were a combined 42 turnovers in this game. Ugly. Basketball.
- The Grizzlies fell to 0-2 on the season when I attend games without my brother.
- I'd be willing to bet that Dave Joerger bought at least eight or nine of those shirt and tie combo packs from Dillard's. You know the ones where the tie matches the shirt in color, but has a weird, ugly pattern on it? Be better than Dillard's Dave Joerger. Be better than Dillard's.
Memphis has a few days off before heading out on a three game road trip. May the new year be filled with better spacing, improved health, and as much of the big Spanish guy as we can all stand.
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