In the battle between teams with 0-1 records, the Chicago Bulls would improve to 1-1 behind 37 points from Zach LaVine. The second half (and especially stretches of the fourth quarter) would prove to be the Achilles Heel for the young Grizzlies as Memphis was outscored 63-42 in the final two quarters.
At first glance, the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies are comparable. Young teams with new coaches trying to find their footing in a league that has a much different look to it than it did a year ago.
Early on however, the Grizzlies took control. Memphis led by as many as 7 points in the first quarter, including 9 from Jaren Jackson Jr. and 7 from Ja Morant. Chicago launched 14 threes in the first frame but only made three.
After Chicago closed the difference to start the second, the Grizzlies kept building onto their advantage, with threes from Marko Guduric and Grayson Allen pushing the lead to 10. Chicago got itself into foul trouble midway into the quarter, putting Memphis into the bonus with 6:17 left in the half. Jaren would exit the game for the half shortly thereafter after getting his third foul on what some would consider a questionable offensive foul call.
Memphis would still stretch the lead out to 14 points before settling on a 13-point, 60-47 lead at the half. Jaren led the way for Memphis with 11 points in the half, while every Grizzlies player that played scored except for Dilllon Brooks. Zach LaVine was the only Bulls player to score in double figures and led all scorers with 20 first half.
Chicago started the third quarter on a 9-0 run, holding Memphis scoreless the first 3:31 of the second half. Jaren ended the drought with a three which started the Grizzlies on a run of their own, scoring seven straight points to give the Grizzlies a 67-56 lead. Bulls rookie Coby White would score 10 in the third to help Chicago close the Grizzlies lead down to 81-79 heading into the fourth.
The Coby White Show continued into the fourth as the youngster helped the Bulls take their first lead of the game, 98-97 with 3:22 to go. White and LaVine both had 11 points in the fourth while the Grizzlies struggled to make key shots down the stretch allowing the Bulls to pull away and pick up the victory. Memphis led 101-98 with 2:29 left in the fourth before Chicago closed out the game on a 12-1 run.
To go with LaVine’s 37, White had 25 points on the night off the bench for Chicago and were the Bulls only double-digit scorers. For the Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson Jr. led the way with a double-double scoring 23 points and picking up 11 rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double as well with 10 points and 13 boards. Brandon Clarke added 14 points off the bench in the loss.
Overall, both teams did what you expect out of two teams that aren’t especially good. Flashes of brilliance, followed by extreme ineptitude: Brilliant passing and horrible turnovers. At times, it looked like neither one of these teams had no idea of what they were doing or even what sport they were playing.
But the flashes of brilliance and positive work on the court are really all that matters for this team (and the Bulls too, even though some think they could be a playoff team). We got some of that tonight. This team can be entertaining, frustrating, and totally boring all at once and that’s fine.
The Grizzlies welcome Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets into Memphis for a Sunday game, with an earlier-than-normal tip-off set for 5:00pm central at FedExForum.