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Empty Runway: Grizzlies Hold On to Beat Shorthanded Bulls

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The FedEx Forum was pretty full tonight; fans expected to see hometown favorite and Memphis's star alum Derrick Rose. If they came to see the stars, though, then I'm sure they went away at least a little unsatisfied.

The Bulls were missing Rose, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and Joakim Noah. The Grizzlies were without Marc Gasol and who knows where Rudy Gay was in mind. In short, this one got more than a little ugly.

It was clearly a game of runs, as the Bulls came out with a three point-guard lineup that clearly frustrated the Grizzlies early on. Acie Law IV, Jannero Pargo, and Flip Murray were incredibly disruptive and incredibly quick both getting to the ball defensively and breaking back to their own offense. The small-lineup Bulls began the game by doubling the Grizz 20-10.

Fortunately over time the Grizz's talent advantaged played out, putting Memphis up by 25 late in the third quarter. O.J. Mayo shot like he was in an open gym, scoring 24 on 8-12 shooting, and both Zach Randolph and Mike Conley double-doubled against the weak Bulls defense. The other big news of the night is that Hasheem Thabeet started in the place of Marc Gasol and nearly doubled up, scoring 10 with 9 boards and 2 blocks. Notably Thabeet had just 3 fouls in 28 minutes, and had a team high +21 on the game.

Of course when you're up 25 it's time to put the bench in, and the Grizzlies's bench performance might have been the worst of the season. Hakim Warrick proved why we never should have given him up; he outscored the entire Grizz bench (6 players, playing 71 minutes). The subs lost all the momentum and the starters were forced to scrap it out just to hold on and win this one 104-97.

All those fans who came out for the first time to see Derrick Rose? I think we can be pretty sure they don't plan on coming back any time soon.