MEMPHIS — The game wasn’t a given win at any point leading up to the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day meeting between the Bulls and Grizzlies which was made abundantly apparent when the Grizzlies romped to a 27 point lead which ended up being a 16 point win over the Bulls.
Derrick Rose was a notable scratch, nursing his turf toe which he suffered in a win against the Timberwolves a week ago.
“It still hurts a little bit, but I still have to go out there and play,” Rose said earlier Monday. “Almost every game, I jam it. By the way that I play and push off, it hurts. I’m very surprised. And I’m kind of irritated. I want it to go away. But it always finds its way back.”
The Grizzlies were extracting revenge for a 40 point beat down they received at the hands of the Bulls on New Year’s Day. Memphis point guard Mike Conley reminded the team of that prior to the game this afternoon.
“Let’s not forget what happened,” Conley shouted the pregame huddle. “‘That was an embarrassing loss. Let’s go out there and just play hard and leave it all out there on the court.”
Chicago has had a problem with allowing teams a chance in games to over take them. The Atlanta Hawks took full advantage of the opportunity Chicago gave them last Saturday and the Grizzlies gave the Bulls the same headaches during their second trip down south.
Conley and Rudy Gay both went 20-plus on the Bulls and the Grizzlies scored 62 points in the paint.
“I don’t think we did a good job mentally preparing for them. We should have been ready for that,” Luol Deng said. “We should have known that anytime you beat a team like that in the NBA, next time, they can’t wait to see you. We should have been more prepared.”
Deng had the best day for the Bulls, continuing his All-Star campaign with 20 points and 6 rebounds. The game did see the triumphant return of C.J. Watson who missed the better part of the month of January with a sprained elbow. Watson returned with 17 points.
The Bulls low point of the day was trailing the Grizzlies 69-42. THey managed to cut the lead to nine but it wasn’t anywhere near good enough to manage the Grizzlies and that should say a lot about the Bull performance and their lack of depth.
“They got great shots. They killed us on the boards. They turned us over,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “If you don’t defend, you don’t rebound and you turn it over, you don’t give yourself much of a chance to win.”
The Bulls head back home to play the Phoenix Suns in Chicago. The depth of this roster will be the subject of a lot of talk until then in Chicago.