The Chicago Bulls had extra incentive to win on Tuesday night. Tom Thibodeau's father died on Christmas day, and the Bulls coach attended services for him over the weekend. Thibodeau said his dad would have wanted him to coach -- a very Thibodeau-ian statement -- and the Bulls responded by earning a tough road win over the Memphis Grizzlies, 95-91. The victory moves the Bulls to 12-17, while Memphis drops to 13-17.
After a cold opening period, the Bulls took control in the third quarter and never looked back. In the Bulls' last game on Saturday against the Mavericks, the story of the night was Jimmy Butler's health following a 46-minute stint in a 22-point blowout loss. Against the Grizzlies, Butler was again the story of the night, this time for his ability to carry the Chicago offense alongside Carlos Boozer. Butler played more minutes than any player on either team (41 minutes), but turned in his best game of the season: 26 points and four rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting.
Butler looked like the player we grew accustomed to seeing in the second half of last season. He hit a pair of three-pointers, threw down an alley-oop dunk and was getting to the free throw line at will. Butler finished 12-of-14 from the line, and there really wasn't much Memphis could do to stop him.
Boozer also played well, adding 21 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor. D.J. Augustin was the only other Bulls player to hit double-figures, and his play might have been even more vital than his line (10 points, nine assists on 2-of-8 shooting) would suggest. Augustin paced the Bulls in the first half with eight dimes, including this fancy one for a Taj Gibson dunk:
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 26 points, as one of five Memphis players to finish in double-figures. Old friend James Johnson was the other big story of the night, as the one-time Bulls draft bust looked pretty good off the bench, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds on 4-of-13 shooting.