Bear food: Grizzlies 105, Bulls 96

Zach Randolph manhandled Taj Gibson and the Bulls.

Zach Randolph manhandled Taj Gibson and the Bulls.

Okay. I was wrong.

I predicted that — with Joakim Noah out — the Memphis frontcourt of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay might finish with at least 70 points and 35 rebounds, thereby exceeding their combined season average of 55.7 PPG and 27.0 RPG.

Well, those three players ended up with only 60 points and 30 rebounds to go along with 6 steals and 5 blocked shots, while shooting 22-for-42 from the field and 15-for-18 at the foul line. To put that into perspective, Chicago’s entire starting lineup combined for 78 points and 23 rebounds, and the Bulls earned 21 free throw attempts as a team.

More painful numbers: The Grizzlies outrebounded the Bulls 46-31, outscored them 62-42 in the paint and finished +9 in free throw attempts. To put things in a more science-y way, Memphis had decided advantages in Effective Field Goal Percentage, Offensive Rebound Percentage and Free Throw Rate…as illustrated by this Four Factors chart from

The fact is, the Grizzlies’ big men wore the Bulls down, especially Zach Randolph. Derrick Rose posterized Randolph with a wicked dunk in the third quarter, but Z-Bo had the last laugh, finishing with game highs in points (31), rebounds (18) and free throws (7-for-8).

Of the dunk, Randolph said: “It got me on ESPN. … [Rose] got me good.” Well, you more than returned the favor, Zach.

Chicago started the game on fire, winning the first quarter 32-19 and going up by as many as 17 points in the second. But teams with an strong inside game and an opposing frontcourt tend to win the battle of attrition in the NBA, which might explain why Memphis is tied for the most comeback victories from a deficit of 15 points or more this season.

The Grizzlies outscored the Bulls 29-16 in the final quarter, and the most telling stretch occurred after Memphis had tied the game at 90 on a foul shot by Randolph. The Grizzlies then got two three-point plays — a layup and one — from Gasol on back-to-back possessions to go up 95-90. Gasol missed the free throw on his second three-point play opportunity, but Gay ended up with the offensive rebound, and then O.J. Mayo swooped in for a layup.

Just like that, the Grizzlies were up 97-90 and the game was essentially over.

While Memphis was getting high percentage shots at the basket — the Griz finished with 23 layups — the Bulls were settling for long jumpers, or forced jumpers, or having layups blocked.

Said Rose: “It hurts. We worked so hard, then the ball bounces their way. We were right there and they made some great plays, effort plays, and they got the ball.”

Added coach Vinny Del Negro: “We have to get bodies on people and be more physical. You have to control the tempo of the game and get more baskets. Everyone has to be more physical and get more loose balls.” 


Yeah, well, it’s hard to do that when your best defender and interior defender is sitting out due to plantar fasciitis. Now maybe people will start to understand why Charles Barkley thought Joakim should have been an All-Star. His absence is slowly killing the Bulls. And they have seven more consecutive games against potential playoff teams, including division leaders Dallas (twice), Orlando and Cleveland.

Said Luol Deng: “It’s not time to panic. We’ve got 21 games left. We’ve got to play with a lot more energy than this, especially in the second half.”

I’m all for the Bulls playing with more energy, but that’s not going to make them grow any taller or add any bulk. Brad Miller is a savvy veteran, but he’s old, slow and much more suited to a backup role at this stage of his career. And Taj Gibson has been fantastic for a first year player, but he’s still a rookie, and he got used like an old dish rag by Randolph before fouling out.

Chicago needs Noah back. Desperately. But that’s not going to happe for a while. This next 8-10 games could get ugly, folks. So, with all due respect to Deng…

…it might be time for a little panic.

Timeout tally:
1st timeout: Rose missed 19-footer
2nd timeout: Warrick was fouled before the timeout
3rd timeout: Deng had a 19-footer blocked by Gay
4th timeout: Randolph was fouled before the timeout
5th timeout: Murray turnover (Gay steals)
6th timeout: Deng drew a foul (2-for-2)

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos

, , ,

15 Responses to Bear food: Grizzlies 105, Bulls 96

    Tony C. March 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Good summary, Matt.

    A couple of quick points:

    At the end of the first quarter, the play that Vinny calls is for Pargo to hold the ball, then create his own shot with time running out (and the other players standing around and watching)? Really? A player who is shooting poorly when wide open? I know that it’s just one possession, but…wow.

    As you touch on, Taj is still a rookie, and at times his lack of experience (or bulk) does show. But the more I see of his post moves around the basket, the more of them I’d like to see.

    Craig March 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    The play Vinny called at the end of the first quarter is the same he always calls to end the quarter, though usually with Derrick or Kirk. They run what they call “fist” with the PG holding the ball on top and everyone else flat at the bottom. The PG penetrates with the two bigs setting back screens as the wings move to the corner and spot up. It did not work for Jannero and the Bulls in this situation, but it’s not something that they do differently in any case. This may be a seperate issue, but the point is, it’s not that Vinny “called the play for Pargo”, it’s the same set they always run in that situation – just happened to be that Rose wasn’t in the game at that time.

    Tony C. March 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Craig –

    Given the Pargo was in the game at the time, it’s a difference without a distinction to say that VDN didn’t call the play for Pargo. Do you imagine that he was surprised by the play?

    The point is that it is one thing to run it with productive offensive players, but something entirely different to run it using a player who is shooting terribly WHEN HE IS OPEN.

    Furthermore, do you think that it is smart for a coach to run the same, predictable play at the end of each quarter when the Bulls have the last shot? I’d call it another illustration of why VDN should be replaced.

  4. chad March 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    i knew the headline would be “bear food” we are nothing till noah comes back

  5. chad March 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    noah needs to stop jumping around on the bench or his feet will keep hurting

  6. Ryan March 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm #


    In the ‘grand scheme’ of things I think it is a wise choice to use the same/similar plays. With such a young team you can’t throw a different play in at the end of each quarter and expect them to run it to perfection – then expect them to remember it come playoff time. If the Bulls can learn to effectively run these plays, it will pay off. Though the play did not work in this specific case for Pargo, he learned from it, and so did 3-4 other players on the bench or court. Also, it was at the end of the 1st with a nice lead – I imagine he was giving Pargo a shot (no pun intended).

    On another note… I loved some of Taj’s moves last night too, Z-Bo may have flexed some ‘experience’ muscle, but come back in two years. Taj has shown some real offensive moves and great hustle on the glass – something we lack without Noah.

    Graybeard March 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    OK we all called it. The Bulls get beat up by big PF’s and Randolph is BIG. What I also saw was the Derrick looked like he was forcing alot of shots.

    Boppinbob March 6, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    Well, now with Noah out for 3 weeks I think the Bulls need to start worrying about making the playoffs. Giving Pargo PT is not going to get it done. Please release him and try anybody else. With Rose, Deng, Gibson, Miller and Hinrich all playing with some type of injury/wear and tear there is little margin for error. I think it will take a total team effort to qualify for the playoffs.

  9. Ryan March 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    I think Richard can help us out with some hustle – Did anyone see him bully Gasol off of the block each time up the floor? He did a great job. I think the next two games against Dallas and Utah will really show what he’s worth for the playoff push. Let’s see some creative lineups Vinny!

    Tony C. March 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    C’mon, Ryan. It’s a binary choice? Either run the same or similar plays every time, or “throw a different play in at the end of each quarter and expect them to run it to perfection”? That’s ridiculous.

    More to the point, why would a coach ever have Pargo play the role that he did in that play? Don’t you think that team’s react differently to different primary offensive players? Do you think that the Grizzlies’ defenders were going to be quick to leave their assignments in order to help with…Pargo?

  11. Ryan March 6, 2010 at 9:02 pm #


    I never concluded to a binary choice. You mentioned, “do you think that it is smart for a coach to run the same, predictable play at the end of each quarter when the Bulls have the last shot?” I was offering a contrary exaggeration – I have a sneaking suspicion that the Bulls have more than one play for end of the quarter possessions.

    I don’t plan to play 20 questions of the breakdown of one play when Pargo ran the offense and did not succeed. I simply expect the Bulls to learn, get better, and be competitive in the playoffs.

  12. chad March 7, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    Maverick food, Jazz food, Magic food, Heat food, Bear food, Maverick food, Cavalier food. I know why people thought the trades were so good when they happened, they played teams like Minnesota, Philadelphia, Indiana. So of course the new players looked good, how do they look now. Rose is all we got.

    mike March 7, 2010 at 4:28 am #

    the bulls are not making the playoffs like i said this bleepin summer and there not going to do shit this offseason this front office sucks

    bullsfan76 March 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    fire vdn please

    Boppinbob March 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Chad, the new players looked good while Noah was playing effectively and was relatively healthy. To say that Tyrus Thomas would make a difference now is ludicrous. He could not make up for the dings to Rose, Deng and Hinrich too. Besides his inconsistency while he was with the Bulls would not have changed if he wasn’t traded.

Designed by Anthony Bain