Preseason Bulls vs. Grizzlies: Bulls surge in 3rd quarter, hang on to win 92-88

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Some good, some bad, a lot of ugly in the Bulls preseason opener.

Obviously, we don't want to take too much of this exhibition. It was pretty ugly overall:

That said, Bulls basketball has returned and we need to talk this thing over. Right? I guess we have to?

After a tightly (and pretty awfully) played first half by both teams, the Bulls broke out in the 3rd quarter. And, dare I say: Kirk Hinrich was pretty great. He captain came back clankin' (1-4, 0-3 from three) but also did extremely well defensively: active from the outset and though finishing with only 2 blocks and steals apiece, was responsible for far more Grizzly turnovers than that. Taking advantage of a thin Memphis PG crop missing their starter Mike Conley, the Bulls used those TOs to drive a 21-4 run that secured the game. Well...secured it from a starting unit standpoint.

Hinrich also ran the break very well for what was an up-tempo look for the starters. The starting offense (Hinrich/Rip/Deng/Booz/Noah) was something I was really looking for in the preseason opener, and overall it was a mixed bag. And I don't mean that as a Carlos Boozer reference (he sucked): A lot of what they tried to do as set plays didn't work well, but they were able to outscore their counterparts with their great defense and transition points. They also drew a ton of fouls, led by Luol Deng's 11 FTAs. Deng was the Bulls offensive leader tonight, and did so without wearing a wrap on his wrist, so that's about as good of a start as you could ask for.

Before the game the new bench was (unfortunately) dubbed "Bench Mob 2.0" by Stacey King, and though I thought new versions were supposed to be improvements (no SBNationUnited jokes, you jackals) they showed some nice things. They also showed a 4th quarter where they shot 1/21 and nearly blew the lead. And the Grizzlies were playing their deep deep (like, cut-able) bench.

More random stuff:

  • Unwelcome back to my living room, Neil and Stacey! I know they're trying to pump things up as employees of the team, but I'm not sure I can handle being told how 'surprisingly athletic' Marco Belinelli is 7 times a night. Stacey even one-upped himself by comparing him to Manu Ginobili. Belinelli did show he could create his own shot, and miss them (1-7). The one he did make was pretty cool-looking.
  • Also in midseason form was PA announcer Tommy Edwards, who called the new Bulls sub 'Belineeli', or something tremendously wrong. Nothing like employee loyalty to keep the fan experience consistently poor, Bulls.
  • Nazr Mohammed was the surprise of the night, shooting 6-10 with 12 rebounds in 23 minutes. He won't fully replace Omer Asik, but I would be very pleased if he shows he still can play a bit. I was way off when figuring Kurt Thomas was done 2 years ago, and hopefully Nazr can provide something similar (though on offense, rather than Thomas could do on D).
  • Marquis Teague was awful. Under 4 minutes and I don't think he made a single good play to counter his 4-5 bad ones. Not that this wasn't becoming obvious based on the stories from the offseason and training camp, but Nate Robinson is definitely the backup PG.
  • Bulls shot 2-14 from three. Yikes.
  • Camp hopefulls (once the Bulls can sign someone) Fesenko and Jaric did nothing.
  • It was great to see the familiar parts in the games from Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, both were beasts defensively and Taj was someone I was especially ready to see again. But they certainly didn't show signs of making a 'leap' on offense yet. Gibson tried to force some offense in his role of leading the new bench, but too often would fumble away the ball inside. Butler was abysmal, outside of his very initial action where he drew a foul (his offensive hallmark last season). He shot 1-11. Added aggression is not good if that's the result.
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