Game Notes: Grizzlies at Bulls
‘It was embarrassing and humiliating.’
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
The term “trap game” usually has a different meaning, but Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls was a trap for the Memphis Grizzlies because they had to spend New Years Eve in the Windy City with not one, but two Chicago natives on the roster. That’s a recipe for disaster.
And so it was for the Grizzlies, who looked as if they partied a little too much the night before. The team came out and was thoroughly demolished by the Bulls on New Year’s Day. As Head Coach Lionel Hollins put it, “It was embarrassing and humiliating.”
That would be an understatement.
Memphis shot 31 percent from the field for the game and didn’t have a single player on the roster score in double-figures until the last minute of regulation. And those two players—rookie Josh Davis and Sam Young—would typically be the most unlikely with a team featuring the likes of Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Memphis’ starters combined for just 21 points on 8-46 shooting and only one player on the team made more than three shots, the aforementioned Sam Young, who made five.
Adding to the Grizzlies’ woes was an injury to Randolph who had to leave the game late in the first quarter when teammate OJ Mayo fell into his knee. The injury was being described as a knee bruise, but Coach Hollins was in no mood to use that as an excuse for the team’s poor performance.
“We were getting beat before Zach left,” said Hollins. “It had nothing to do with Zach going out of the game. We were down and only scored 12 points in the first quarter. He wasn’t hurt then.”
For the Chicago Bulls, there was no better way to celebrate the New Year and their home opener than with a 40-point blowout victory after being up by as many as 46 points on the Grizzlies.
Rip Hamilton was a late scratch from the starting lineup due to what the team described as a groin injury, but it didn’t matter. Ronnie Brewer got the start and put up Hamilton-like production to the tune of 17 points, 5 assists and 7 rebounds.
“Ronnie stepped in and he’s played great all preseason, played well in the regular season, so it was good for him to get extra minutes,” said Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. “I think he just picked up where he left off. At the end of last year, he was playing really well, so I think he’s gotten his confidence back and we need him.”
The rest of the Bulls starters also played well and were able to take the night off early and get their teammates on the bench some valuable playing time.
But Chicago was also hit by the injury bug when reserve guard CJ Watson went down with what the team described as an elbow strain after diving for a loose ball early in the forth quarter.
The injury was eerily reminiscent of the one sustained by Boston Celtics’ guard Rajon Rondo in the Playoffs last year against the Miami Heat. An MRI for Watson had been scheduled for Monday and no timetable has been set for his return.
But the injury to Watson potentially opens the door to more playing time for seldom used reserve guard, John Lucas III.
Lucas played well in the blowout victory by scoring 8 points in just 10 minutes of playing time including knocking down back-to-back three-pointers that sent the United Center crowd into a frenzy.
Said Lucas, “I had to come out hard because everyone was playing at a high level and I needed to contribute.”
On the importance of staying ready for moments such as the injury to Watson, Lucas opined, “You get to a point where you don’t know when your number will be called so you have to be ready whether you’re the No. 1 guard off the bench or the No. 13 guard off the bench.”
The Chicago Bulls will face the Atlanta Hawks at home on Tuesday night.