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The Brave Bulls Punch Harder Against the Exhausted Grizzlies

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The fifth loss of the season for the Grizzlies came against the Rose-less Bulls. The effort was there, but the Bears of Beale Street's legs were still sore after epic back-to-back victories against the Warriors and the Spurs. SuperConley almost played the hero again in the last minutes of the game, but a determined Butler and the "Balkans Sensation" Mirotic carried the Bulls for the win.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor's note: Big thanks to Marco, our Spanish correspondent for GrizzNation, for staying up very late to recap this game! - CF)

Final Score: Chicago 103 - Memphis 97

Recap (with notes)

Pregame

FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee.

The Chicago Bulls (16-9) against the Memphis Grizzlies (21-4).

Rob Fischer: "Night after night just something amazing has happened over the last seven days."

And today, awesome things kept happening because the Chicago Bulls came to Memphis. On the court, Marc found himself in ChristmasLand surrounded by family: Zach "brother from another mother" Randolph teamed up with him, and Pau "brother from his actual real mother" Gasol was ready to go up against him.

(screenshots courtesy of Fox SportSouth)

Even if I don't like Pau Gasol, my father and the whole Spanish country do (generally they still tend to forget about Marc, which leads me to argue with a thousand non-Grizzlies-believers), so this picture with both brothers' stats showing how special the Gasols are, is a kind of commemoration of something that will never happen again in this land of Spaniards where we all are not particularly tall dudes.

A beautiful defensive game was about to start and here were the lineups:

No Rose. No McDermott (ahh, I was really looking forward to see him). And no Gibson.

No Allen (But WAIT.FOR.IT).

1st Quarter

  • Hinrich and Lee scored the first buckets of the game, and then both Sant Boi's brothers badly missed a couple of shots against each other (things of brotherhood, I suppose).
  • I didn't know if the defenses were playing really well or both teams were just struggling to score some points, but things were not looking too bad for the Grizzlies. Memphis seemed to be controlling the tempo of the game, and after a couple of nice moves by Conley and Gasol, I firmly believed the Grizzlies were going to get an easy win. In a less elegant way, I thought: "You see that, father? You finally see it? I told you. I told you. I told you. MARC is better than Pau!!! [EVIL laugh]. And you hearing me, Pona? Are you? Bears are always better than bulls!!! [EVIL laugh again].
  • It was 22-20 at the end of the first quarter with Prince playing the role of leading scorer with six points.

2nd Quarter & Halftime

  • In the second quarter, Butler began to overpower the Grizzlies (8 points in the period), but that was after a delicious Grizzly sequence where I fall in love with Vince Carter for this:
  • And also with a girl (for obvious and perfectly fine reasons like beauty and charm) wearing a blue hat and smiling among the crowd.
  • And with the Memphis Grizzlies in general due this little factoid: "Memphis is the first NBA team to defeat the team with the best record in the NBA & the defending NBA champs in back-to-back nights since the 2000-01 Milwauckee Bucks".
  • So yeah, I really thought everything was gonna be OK, but then Conley couldn't buy a bucket (it's totally cool to be CLUTCH Mike, but points in the second quarter also count), and the bearded rookie from the Balkans and former Real Madrid player Nicola Mirotic (a.k.a. the new #GrizzKiller) started to warm up from long distance (13 points in the quarter for him), killing Z-Bo along the way.
  • It was a hard period for the Grizzlies, and 51-43 for the Bulls going into halftime.
  • Top scorers at the half: Conley with 9 points. And for the Bulls, Mirotic with 15 and Butler with 12. And the Gasol match? Marc 6, Pau 4.
  • Keys at the half: Grizzlies on 33% shooting (ZERO of five 3-pointers) and the Bulls on 48% shooting (6 of 13 3-pointers).

3rd Quarter

  • We had buckets swapped by Prince/Hinrich/Randolph/Butler, but the truth was that (Pranica Voice ON) "it's not happening offensively for the Grizzlies".
  • Grizzlies kept shooting horrendously: Marc was 2 of 10, Z-Bo 3 of 9, and Conley 3 of 11. It was ugly, but as a Grizzlies fan you never know what will happen so people just kept believing that shots eventually would begin falling. But I also wrote in my long time forgotten thermodynamic notebook: "WE.ARE.LOST".
  • Quincy came into the game again, and I was hopeful like usual that maybe it was gonna be his day. Reality punched me real hard with Butler's fists.
  • Then I watched a couple of things which made me smile:
  • 1) The less famous Gasol took his older brother to "Marc's school for big guys who wanna play basketball like bosses", showing him "Lesson 2.5, Maneuvering with Virtuosity Near the Basket":
  • And 2) Allen, Calathes, and Marc participated in one of my favorite Grizzlies pictures ever,
  • REMEMBER: The Grindfather is always watching you.
  • At the end of the third, Beno and Lee kept the Memphis alive, but the red backcourt of Brooks and Butler was still doing their homework. And it was 73-66 for the Bulls. So there was still some hope, right?

4th Quarter & Background Information

  • Butler looked like a real superstar in the last quarter (11 points in the period and 31 in the game, which made two consecutives 30+ points nights in back-to-back games). IMPRESSIVE demeanor.
  • And Mirotic kept looking like a really talented kid (smoking the Grizzly net without missing 3-pointers). He scored 6 of 6 for a total of 27 points. And being myself a former Real Madrid basketball fan, and a Balkans traveler with some good friends over there, I'm gonna try to get some good Balkans karma by posting this video of Mirotic's highlights hoping that next time I have to cross the Serbian border, the Serbian police with the real angry face recognizes me (the Grizzlies writer who speaks highly of Mirotic) and treats me a little better. I'd like to avoid being chosen among 50 people in the overcrowded bus to unpack my backpack while he shouts in my face in bitter Serbian just because I am a foreigner in unfamiliar territory.
  • With just a few minutes remaining, something really weird happened in the game: Mike missed his go-to move (and what's become a Grizzlies staple): the right-handed floater. So everyone just knew that IT.WASN'T.THE.DAY.
  • But even on bad days like this one, Grizzlies have some superpower which doesn't let them throw away the game so the starters can rest for the next one, and with just three minutes remaining, it still was a two-possesion game. 92-86 for the Bulls.
  • 1 minutes and 30 seconds and just down by four points.
  • And CONLEY did it again. THREE!!! (12 points for him in the last quarter. This is starting to look familiar). So 13 seconds and 99-97. This can't be true. Conley is not human. He is gonna win again today. And tomorrow. And eternally...
  • But no. Mike is human after all, and it's also worth mentioning that the Bulls' players wore the big-boy pants and made the key free throws to finish the game. So they deservedly won. Kudos to you, Bulls. You always put a good fight.
  • Memphis 21-5 / Chicago 17-9.
  • BACKGROUND INFORMATION IN CASE YOU THINK THIS IS A WEIRD RECAP: I wrote this recap while traveling by train across the rainy, grey, and dark north of Spain. The train is old as hell and my laptop is trembling with every key punch (Ed note: No worrries - we got you -KY). I tried to bring back to my mind the memories of the game last night against the Bulls (I didn't sleep in order to watch it live), which also happened to be the last night of my journey in the Basque Country. The Bulls are probably my favorite team in the East because I like Noah's defensive style of basketball and because I still think Rose is gonna return someday and beat the hell out of the Cavaliers or whatever team where LeBron is playing. This loss against the Bulls is probably not the best way to remember December 20th where I'm going back home for Christmas holidays, but life is what it is, losses are not always a bad thing, and I particularly love the Grizzlies no matter what. Cheers.

On to the next one: Grizzlies vs. Cleveland, Dec 21.