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Bulls pin tough loss on Grizzlies

 

In front of a sell-out crowd at FedExForum and millions of ESPN viewers, the Grizzlies fell to the Central Division-leading Chicago Bulls during the Ninth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Game, 96-84.
Kelley Evans
There are 82 games in the regular NBA season and the Grizzlies are halfway through that point. With 41 games behind them and playoff aspirations, Monday afternoon (Jan. 17), the team looked “out of sync.”

In front of a sell-out crowd at FedExForum and millions of ESPN viewers, the Grizzlies fell to the Central Division-leading Chicago Bulls during the Ninth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Game, 96-84.

The Grizzlies’ franchise player, Rudy Gay, was far from thrilled with his own performance. Following the game, he went to the team’s practice facility and worked on his jump shots.


Chicago Bulls star guard Derrick Rose signs an autograph for eight-year-old Antonio Taylor at this week’s Ninth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day showdown between the Grizzlies and Bulls. (Photos by Warren Roseborough.)


Darrell Arthur gets a taste of the Bulls’ intense defense.

Gay was held to 1-10 from the field, a season-low nine points, with seven coming from the free throw line.

“I cannot explain why he went 1-for-10. It is basketball; that stuff happens,” said Grizz Coach Lionel Hollins. “Some nights you go out there and do your thing and shots don’t fall.”

The game was the centerpiece of the annual MLK celebration, featuring on-court presentations of the Sports Legacy Awards to Major League Baseball icon Willie Mays, and NBA Hall of Fame legends Willis Reed and Lenny Wilkens.

At the end of the first quarter, State Farm presented a $25,000 check to the National Civil Rights Museum – accepted by museum president Beverly Robertson – and SunTrust Bank presented a $10,000 check to The LeMoyne-Owen College – accepted by president Johnnie B. Watson – in the second quarter.

Sandwiched around both stoppages were too many Bulls fast break points and impressive defense for Memphis to handle.

And this Bulls squad was playing without the inside presence of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, both out with injuries.

The Grizzlies were looking for their fifth straight win after beating Dirk Nowitski and the Dallas Mavericks at FedExForum 89-70 on Jan. 15. But it just didn’t happen.

“We still have 41 games to go,” said Hollins.

There was no Tony Allen, who is usually called upon for his defensive power. And there was no Xavier Henry, who brings the strength and athleticism against larger teams. Both players are healing from sore knees.

“The reason we did not execute was because of their defense,” said Hollins. “In order to play really good teams that play good defense you have to execute and you have to move the ball from side to side.”

Led by former Memphis Tigers star guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls outscored the Grizz on three-point shots, with ten made before the Grizzlies hit their first.

Strength, speed and athleticism are three words that sum up the Bulls team.

In the fourth quarter, Grizz guard O.J. Mayo cut the lead to nine with a three-pointer, but that didn’t last long because the Bulls’ Kyle Korver had the answer, tossing in one of this six three-pointers.

Rose notched his first career triple-double with 22 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in his second NBA appearance at FedExForum.

For the Grizz, Zach Randolph turned in another strong performance, with his seventh straight double-double this season. He finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Mayo added 15 points followed by Gasol with 12.

“We were definitely out of sync tonight,” said Randolph. “We played hard, but we couldn’t stop them.”

“They played like this was the playoff game,” said Grizz point guard Mike Conley. “They played harder than we did.”

“I think they’re a good defensive team,” Gasol said. “They work really well together. They engage and communicate. They do a really good job.”

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