Keys to the Game: Bulls vs. Grizzlies (12.04.19)
Tonight, the Chicago Bulls (7-14) return home to the United Center after successfully closing the book on a three-game West Coast road trip after knocking off the Sacramento Kings, 113-106, on Monday. This evening the Bulls hit the hardwood take on the Memphis Grizzlies (6-14) for the second and final time. The two teams first met back on October 25th down in Memphis, where Chicago escaped with an exciting 110-102 victory.
After getting off to a slow start, the Bulls got it going in the second half, outscoring the Grizzlies 63-42 during the game's final 24 minutes to post the team's first win on the year. Chicago guard Zach LaVine dropped a game-high 37 points while rookie teammate Coby White notched 21 of his 25 points on the night in the second half to drive Chicago to the victory. Second-year power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. paced Memphis with an impressive 23-point, 11-rebound night, followed by Jonas Valanciunas' 10-point, 13-rebound effort. Memphis rookie Ja Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, contributed 10 points, five assists and three steals in his home debut.
For the Bulls stay on the right path this evening they're going to need to be aggressive at both ends of the floor from the opening tip through the final buzzer. A relentless rebounding effort — especially at the defensive end of the floor — will help to ignite Chicago's offense by allowing the Bulls to establish a fast pace.
Chicago is at its best when they consistently share the ball, making sure it freely jumps from player-to-player and from side-to-side while also hunting opportunities to take advantage of cracks in the defense. All five Bulls on the floor must show up with a chip on their shoulder and be willing to take the action to the rim every time a lane to the hoop opens.
For the Bulls to achieve success they must approach every game with a blue-collar attitude by aggressively battling on the boards while never failing to hustle back on defense and/or fight tooth-and-nail every possession and for every loose ball.
Tonight's contest is the first of a four-game road trip for Memphis, who comes in having lost seven of their last eight games. After this evening, the Grizzlies travel to Utah, Golden State and Phoenix before returning home to play Milwaukee on December 13. They also come a shorthanded this evening, as Morant (back spasms), Valanciunas (illness), Kyle Anderson (left hip soreness) and Brandon Clarke (right heel soreness) are sidelined due to injury/illness. On Monday, the Grizzlies fell at home, 117-104, to the Indiana Pacers. Memphis forward Solomon Hill stepped into the starting lineup for the first time this year and registered 22 points, six rebounds and three steals. Guard Dillion Brooks added 19 points while De 'Anthony Melton came off the bench to post a season-high 16 points and nine rebounds. Jaren Jackson Jr. led all scorers with 31 points and two blocks in 34 minutes of work.