Game 41 Recap: Bulls 96, Grizzlies 84

No Joakim Noah.

No Carlos Boozer.

Two of the team’s best three players out of action.

Things looked bad.

As a fan, when things look bad, all you want to see out of your team is a sense of urgency. Guys stepping up. A team playing good basketball.

Well, that’s what Bulls fans got today.

Derrick Rose? His first career triple-double (22 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds).

Luol Deng? A game-high 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and some killer defense on Rudy Gay.  Mind you, Gay averages 21 PPG on 48 percent shooting (including 41 percent on threes). Today he finished with 9 points on 1-for-10 shooting.

Taj Gibson? He’s not the scoring threat that Boozer is, but he finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and a game-high 6 blocked shots. Oh, and a game-best plus-minus score of +16. Yes, Zach Randolp had a sizable double-double (21 points and 13 boards), but Taj helped harass Z-Bo into missing 13 of his 20 field goal attempts.

Kyle Korver? He scored 22 points off the bench while going 8-for-12 from the field and 6-for-10 from downtown. He even added 4 rebounds.

Kurt Thomas? Quiet numbers (9 points and 6 rebounds), big body, solid impact. He’s not the defensive foundation that Noah is, but he bangs and intimidates.

Chicago’s defense? It held Memphis 15 points below their season average of 99.6 and limited them to 37 percent shooting (including 1-for-7 from downtown). And check out the Grizzlies’ team splits: They averages 102.6 PPG at home. So the Bulls actually held them 18.6 points below their season average for home games.

Teamwork? The Bulls registered 24 assists on 36 made field goals and committed only 11 turnovers (the league average is 14.5 TOs per game).

It should come as no surprise, then, that Chicago built a 22-point lead before settling for a 12-point win. If it hadn’t been for an off-the-bench outburst by O.J. Mayo (15 points on 7-for-14 shooting) and a 35-19 free throw advantage (including 16-4 in the third quarter), the Bulls might have won by 30.

Still, it was a pretty sweet win, regardless of the margin of victory. The Grizzlies may be a sub-.500 team, but they had won five of their last seven games, including wins over the Lakers (30-12), Thunder (27-13), Jazz (27-13) and Mavericks (26-13).

And, as I pointed out, the Bulls were minus two of their three biggest guns.

This win made me appreciate some things even more than usual. The team’s defense-first focus. The way Luol Deng fills whatever role is asked of him. And the fact that Rose has become one of those superstars that can generate wins by his force of will.

It’s good stuff all around.

Admittedly, I’m worried about tomorrow’s home game against the Bobcats. It’ll be Chicago’s fourth game in five nights and their second straight without Boozer. And last week they finished up a stretch of five games in seven nights. Plus Rose, Deng and Gibson all logged at least 40 minutes last night.

Winning isn’t going to be easy. But this Bulls team keeps stepping up despite adversity. Why should I doubt they can do it again?

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

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12 Responses to Game 41 Recap: Bulls 96, Grizzlies 84

    inkybreath January 18, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Game 41. We are 15 games over .500 – the 3rd best team in the Eastern Conference.

    If we continue at this pace, we would finish 56-26.

    I get the impression that we have not played out best basketball yet.

    Derrick Rose is the MVP, as of right now.

    Forget all the Bogans, Boozankles and No-Noahs. (Those Lucas III free-throws are a distant memory now, no?)

    This team is good, the coach is good, the home-court is pumped and LOUD …. and Derrick Rose is just an awesome player to watch, game in and game out.

    I am thankful!

  2. dunkatron January 18, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    While the trade sounded sexy, todays game was a statement for not making a trade for OJ mayo. He couldn’t guard Korver, and Kyle looked like saturday’s tap and shoot turned around his season.
    Only thing is, I am still not sure if the bulls can be considered a deep team. Do the bulls need a strong starting SG to be deep enough to do playoff damage? Is this team, if healthy, good enough to get out of the second round?
    Any thoughts?

  3. Inception January 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    believe in Thibs…defense wins games.

    best coach in CHI since Phil?? i think so.

    Gorditadog January 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Amen to that. It was a sweet win.

    Tony C. January 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Funny how unsurprising it was to see Korver break out of his long slump after the game winner the other night.

    BFD January 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    I don’t know how much stock to put into the OJ Mayo not defending Kyle Korver thing. On one hand, Korver finally got hot and the team did a good job moving the ball on offense, getting him open looks. On the other hand, you may say that OJ Mayo is a bad defender…but the same thing has been said of Boozer and Korver and both of them play big parts on this team. If anything, I saw the reason why the Bulls should be interested in his services. Despite playing against one of the best defenses in the league and being down late, OJ managed to will his team back into the game even while the rest of his teammates stood around looking like dear in headlights.

    BoppinBob January 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    I am very pleased with the way that the Bulls have played this season. I do not think that they need to make a trade to be competitive in the playoffs. This team is still settling into itself. First they were without Boozer, then before they could adjust to him Noah goes out.

    Bogans is a streak shooter who is yet to start a streak, who could get on one at any time. While I prefer Brewer, I think Thibs is ultimately making the right decision in the way he is using his SGs. Let’s face it, when this team is healthy the SG with be the fifth option offensively behind Rose, Boozer, Deng and Noah. By the end of the season Bogans will be a reasonable 3-pt threat.

    The one thing that they are doing is playing solid defense. While they have been inconsistent they have still been very, very good at times. The longer they are together the more consistent they will be.

    Mayo is talented but he doesn’t seem like a good team mate, not paying a gambling debt to the extent that he was willing to fight about it. The Bulls do not need him at the cost of chemistry.

    Gorditadog January 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Dunkatron- I agree with you about Mayo. He looked like he was sleeping through most of the game, though he did wake up when Korver started guarding him.

    Tony C. January 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    “…not paying a gambling debt to the extent that he was willing to fight about it.”

    and with Tony Allen, no less! Doesn’t speak well of his intelligence, either.

    BFD January 18, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Didn’t the Lakers just win with Ron Artest? Didn’t the Pistons win with Ben Wallace? Didn’t the Bulls win 3 with Dennis Rodman?

    One ‘bad attitude’ player doesn’t wreck a championship team. Meanwhile, it would appear that OJ Mayo would want off of that team. Its been apparent that Memphis no longer wants him after drafting his replacement and benching him. I would think that he would be glad to come here and start playing for a good coach and being surrounded by much better players.

    BoppinBob January 19, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    While Rodman was a flake off the court, he was a model teammate on the court. He made all the hustle plays. From every report I have heard, Artest has been an excellent team mate while he has been on the Lakers. Ben Wallace was never considered a chemistry problem, he was considered a dirty player, big difference.

    @BFD, if Mayo is so valuable why did Memphis draft someone to replace him? The Bulls do not need someone else’s problem child if he affects team chemistry.

    BFD January 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    How many stories of him being a chemistry problem existed before this year? Or even before his benching? The key between Rodman, Wallace, and Artest is that while their teams are winning they are considered ‘quirky’ and the guys in the locker room love them. When the teams are losing….thats when they wore out there welcome and were listed as a ‘distraction’. Its only a matter of time before Artest starts to really get blamed for the losing of the Lakers (he is taking bad shots, and arguing more with Phil Jackson this year…or so the media tells me at least).

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