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Grizzlies fall to Bulls 108-104 in MLK Jr. Celebration Game

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game ended in disappointment for the Memphis faithful.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies dropped a tough game to the Chicago Bulls 108-104 in their annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration game in FedExForum.

The first quarter was about as ugly as it could have been offensively for the Chicago Bulls. 6-22 overall shooting and shooting 0-6 on three-point attempts will lead to quarters where you score only 14 points, not to mention a 2-9 start from the charity stripe. Memphis was not lighting the world on fire themselves (8-23 shooting overall, 1-6 from three), but they defended well and limited second chance opportunities for the Bulls, leading to a 19-14 lead at the end of the first.

Both offenses showed signs of life in the second half. Doug McDermott helped resurrect the scoring efforts of the Bulls, at one point scoring 17 straight points for the Bulls as they stormed back to take the lead. Chicago went on quite a run, building an advantage of up to eight points as they scored 38 in the second quarter. They held the lead at the half 52-46, despite Marc Gasol’s 16 point, 7 rebound first half effort.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies started the second half with five straight points, but the Bulls answered back with four points of their own. They also found ways to get to the charity stripe, which helped them sustain their lead. The Bulls had 23 free throw attempts through three quarters, while the Grizzlies only had six. With Memphis struggling to score, the Grizzlies did not attack the rim and try to draw contact enough as much as the Bulls did.

But it turns out that Memphis just needed Vince Carter and Mike Conley to start connecting from range. Those two make three shots from long range to get Memphis back the lead for a short time and make it a game again. The Grizzlies as a team were 5-7 from three in the frame and 11-24 overall from beyond the arc heading in to the fourth quarter.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls started the final frame with a 6-0 run as Memphis trotted out an interesting lineup of Tony Allen/Troy Daniels/Vince Carter/James Ennis/Zach Randolph. Memphis got out of that look following a timeout and got back in the game on the back of the usual suspects for the Grizzlies- Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, and Zach Randolph. The Core Four got Memphis the lead back for a short time midway through the fourth.

The Bulls would not lie down, however. A Taj Gibson and-one gave Chicago the lead back, and the back and forth would continue until a back and forth between Mike Conley and Jimmy Butler ended with Butler icing the game away with a jumper and a steal.

Some key stats-

  • The Bulls made 11 more free throws than the Grizzlies did and attempted 22 more shots from the charity stripe.
  • Mike Conley and Marc Gasol combined for 52 points on 51.3% shooting as well as 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
  • Zach Randolph had a rough night shooting but got his 10th double-double of the season off the bench for Memphis with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
  • Doug McDermott had a career-high 31 points for the Bulls. Any night where Dougie McBuckets goes off like that likely will lead to a Chicago victory.

The Memphis Grizzlies are now 25-18 on the season. They are back in action Wednesday night in Washington against the Wizards.

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