Memphis 104, Chicago 103

MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 17 (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls had been getting away with less-than-stellar play against some of the NBA's weakest teams. On Saturday night, the league's worst team made them pay.

After escaping with two wins against Boston, one against the 76ers, and one against the Magic - all on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture - the Bulls saw their four-game winning streak snapped by the Memphis Grizzlies 104-103 on Saturday night.

Mike Miller scored 25 points, and Hakim Warrick added 15, including the winning free throw with 4.3 seconds left for Memphis.

Luol Deng, who had 23 points for Chicago, missed an 8-foot hook in the lane as time ran out.

"Maybe we had this one coming,'' said guard Kirk Hinrich, who finished with 16 points and six assists for Chicago. "We haven't been playing well. Hopefully, this will send a message to us that we've just got to play better, especially at this point of the season. It's discouraging.''

Hinrich's 8-footer with 9.2 seconds left tied the game at 103, erasing a 99-92 Memphis lead with 2:04 left.

Warrick then hit one of two free throws with 4.3 seconds left, and Deng's shot missed the mark with Warrick and Rudy Gay guarding him, snapping a four-game winning streak for Chicago.

"I felt it was a good look,'' said Deng, who fueled a third-quarter Bulls rally, "but at that time, we just needed a shot.''

Pau Gasol added 21 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, while Chucky Atkins scored 19 points and Gay added 13. Miller grabbed 12 rebounds and Warrick had 10 boards as Memphis outrebounded Chicago 50-41.

Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 33 points.

The Bulls had dominated Memphis recently, having won four of the past five meetings, the past two by an average of 37 points, including a 45-point blowout two months ago in Chicago.

It wasn't the same for Chicago this time, even though the Bulls erased a 16-point Memphis first-half advantage.

"The difference was in Chicago, we made plays. Tonight, they made plays,'' Chicago center Ben Wallace said.

Miller was the catalyst for Memphis, scoring seven points over a 54-second stretch of the fourth. That gave the Grizzlies a 92-86 lead, and Miller provided an assist on the following 3-point basket by Gay for a 95-86 advantage with 5:12 left.

For Memphis, it was a relief. In dropping eight of their last nine, the Grizzlies seemed to be playing without emotion.

"Finally, we won a close game,'' Gasol said. "We've lost so many of them. I think we played good. We shouldn't have gotten to that point of the game that they had a chance to win.''

The Grizzlies started quickly and built the lead to 16 in the second quarter. The Bulls cut the deficit to 40-38, but the Grizzlies scored 14 straight points and led 54-42 at the break.

Deng carried the Chicago offense after halftime, scoring 13 points in the first five minutes of the second half. He finished the quarter with 17 points, helping Chicago to a 77-75 lead heading into the fourth.

But the Bulls couldn't hold on, and Memphis rebuilt the lead behind Miller's flurry.

"We just haven't been playing with the same energy and intensity on both ends of the floor that we need to be playing with,'' Hinrich said. "It carried over tonight. In the last two or three games, we played the same way, and we were able to win.

"Maybe we needed to lose one to get us to start playing better.''

Notes: As they did on Tuesday against the Celtics, the Bulls wore their green jerseys in honor of St. Patrick's Day. ...The Grizzlies won their first game against a Central Division foe. Memphis entered the game 0-9 against teams from the Central. ... Miller's double-double was his sixth of the season. Gasol had his 23rd and Warrick recorded his fifth. ... Wallace's five steals tied a season high.


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