With Derrick Rose out, Bulls lose to Grizzlies in rout
By Neil Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org January 16, 2012 7:34PM
Bulls forward Luol Deng looks for a way to shoot around Grizzlies defenders Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol (rear). Deng scored 20 points. | Nikki Boertman~AP
Updated: February 18, 2012 8:14AM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Bulls can lack energy and still win games, as they proved Saturday against the Toronto Raptors. When they lack energy and Derrick Rose, it’s another story.
Throw in some of the worst defense since coach Tom Thibodeau came to Chicago, and they had no chance in a 102-86 loss Monday to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Struggling without Rose, who aggravated his sprained left big toe and sat out his second game of the season, is understandable. But the Bulls entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NBA in defense and rebounding. They did neither when it mattered and committed 13 first-half turnovers against a Grizzlies team they defeated by 40 points in their home opener on New Year’s Day.
‘‘I don’t think we did a good job mentally,’’ forward Luol Deng said. ‘‘We should’ve been ready for them. We should’ve known any time you beat a team like that in the NBA, they can’t wait to see you the next time. We should’ve been more prepared.’’
Guard C.J. Watson returned for the first time since spraining his elbow in the home opener and gave the Bulls life late in the third quarter. For the second consecutive game, forward Taj Gibson came off the bench to provide the same. With Watson and Gibson leading the way, the Bulls cut a 27-point deficit to nine midway through the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies, though, responded with nine consecutive points to end the Bulls’ comeback bid.
‘‘When you allow easy shots early on, it allows them to get confidence,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘Once a player has confidence in this league, it’s much harder to slow them down. They made some tough shots later in the game, but that was after they had gotten a ton of easy shots. They played well. Give them credit.’’
The first half was like a dunk contest, but the Grizzlies were the only participants. They made 14 of their first 18 shots and never looked back. They shot 77.8 percent in the first quarter, 69 percent in the first half and 54 percent for the game. They had 16 dunks or lay-ins in the first half alone.
Deng led the Bulls with 20 points; Watson added 17 and Gibson 16. Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 24 points, and Mike Conley added 20. Marc Gasol had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
‘‘Any time you’re missing D-Rose, it’s tough,’’ forward Carlos Boozer said. ‘‘But I thought C.J. played great coming in in his first game back. He gave us a huge lift.’’
Boozer and center Joakim Noah were on the bench when the Bulls made their rally. It was the third time in four games the two weren’t on the floor in the fourth quarter. In this case, however, it was more a product of Thibodeau pressing to try to get back into the game. Gibson sets the trap and therefore remained in the game.
Boozer was the only Bulls player who was ready to go when the ball went up. He scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 13.
‘‘We’ve got to be ready,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I have to do a better job of getting them ready.’’