Bulls take down the Grizzlies, 111-110

It was madness in Memphis Thursday as the Bulls marched to the free throw line in the last minute of the game and defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 111-110.The winning margin came with 1.8 seconds left when Antonio Blakeney made two of three free throws after Memphis took a one-point lead. Blakeney had waved off Cameron Payne so he could line up for the last shot. He was then fouled. Just before that, Cristiano Felicio made two pressure free throws.Memphis lost its 19th game in a row. The Bulls moved to 24-44.The Bulls were led by Zach LaVine with 20 points, making 10 of 10 free throws. But he shot four of 12. Bobby Portis had 17 points, Denzel Valentine 15 all on three pointers and David Nwaba and Blakeney 10 each. The Bulls had a season high 63 points off the bench and were 15 of 41 on threes in the maddening game with more than 25 lead changes and ties.The Bulls will play the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday in the United Center.Lauri Markkanen didn’t make the trip with his back spasms. Paul Zipser was back from his foot problem after missing eight games. Robin Lopez started again and played what is becoming his accustomed 12 first quarter minutes. Lopez did make his fourth career three pointer for the Bulls, all this season, for the Bulls first points. It was after the Grizzlies scored the first five points and then went ahead 13-3 in another detached and stoic opening for the Bulls starters. The defensive pressure was non existent and the turnovers were common, a half dozen by the end of the first quarter. The Bulls did come on after that first timeout with six straight points including a fierce Vonleh driving score. He started for Markkanen. Memphis led 29-18, but then the Bulls finally bean to pressure the dribble and the shooters, the Grizzlies missing their last six shots of the first quarter. That was because of the play of Portis, Blakeney and Payne, who were working hard defensively and moving with purpose on offense. Their play enabled the Bulls to get within 29-22 after one quarter and then put a 13-4 run on Memphis to start the second quarter behind Blakeney’s shooting. That gave the Bulls their first lead of the game at 35-33. Felicio showed his most activity of the season cutting to the basket for a pair of three-point play opportunities, and then LaVine began to drive the ball on the way to six for six first half free throws. But also four fouls and four turnovers. Still, he and Dunn became active to enable the Bulls to take a 49-47 lead before the game was tied at 52 at halftime. The Bulls were careless with nine first half turnovers. The Bulls were five of 17 on threes, all but Lopez’ three coming from the reserves. The reserves, again, had all plus ratings in the first half while the starters were all minus on the plus/minus standard. The Bulls starters were outscoring Memphis’ 23-4.Felico started the second half for Lopez. Once again, the starters waited until the second half to play hard and with pace and pressure on defense. LaVine opened the second half with a three and Dunn found Nwaba running out after a miss for an early 61-57 lead. But the Bulls began settling for threes and Memphis went on an 8-0 run to reclaim a 65-61 lead. LaVine continued his assault on the rim and had as many free throw attempts midway through three quarters as the entire Grizzlies team. Though it also inhibited the Bulls passing and movement. The Bulls then went into the fourth quarter leading 78-75 on Valentine’s third three. That second group for the Bulls again was tougher defensively as the Grizzlies missed five of their last six shots of the third quarter. It was a three jamboree to open the fourth quarter for both teams with threes being exchanged back and forth like in a duel. The Bulls got from Payne and Portis, four in the first three minutes of the quarter. With just over four minutes gone in the fourth quarter, the teams combined for eight threes as the Bulls led 95-92. The Bulls had a terrific sequence with Blakeney running out for a fast break and being blocked from behind. Payne was following and grabbed the block and passed underhand to Portis for a layup and 100-93 lead midway through the fourth with the reserves again the most animated and engaged. The Bulls then shot rushed threes from Payne and Blakeney and Memphis tied the game at 101 with 2:46 left. The Bulls took a 107-106 lead with under a minute left on a fast break score from Payne. But they failed to nab a Grizzlies miss and gave up a dunk with 46.9 seconds left to trail 108-107. Felicio’s two free throws with 40.5 seconds left after he missed his first three tries of the game gave the Bulls a one-point lead with 40.5 seconds left.