It may seem like I don't stick up for this group often, but I was a bit perturbed when the first thing Kendall Gill mentioned in the CSN postgame was how the Grizzlies 'wanted it more' when it came to their offensive rebounding margin and ability to chase down other loose balls. It wasn't a matter of 'want to' tonight, and it's dangerous to accuse this team in particular of not giving a good effort, since it's basically effort that gets them into any game (and one of VDN's definite strengths as a coach).
But what gets them to offensive rebounds is Joakim Noah, who's one of the best in the league at it. They happened to be going up against another in that tier in Zach Randolph, who absolutely punished the Bulls frontcourt tonight with 18 rebounds (surprisingly only 4 offensive, sure seemed like more) and 31 points on 18 shots. Randolph was an absolute monster, and I actually thought that Taj Gibson* started out well against him in an initial defensive set. But then Randolph was getting second chances, then he had a nice dose of Hakim Warrick to absolutely abuse, and then he was in a complete groove (and seemingly a bit peeved at the refs and Bulls bench too?) as he bludgeoned the Bulls into the penalty and Taj eventually out of the game.
Despite that I thought it was overall actually quite the effort by the Bulls frontcourt, as Brad Miller managed to frustrate Marc Gasol for most of the game as well. But eventually it did catch up to them, and with the starters out it was even worse.
Despite the effort, this was a tough loss nonetheless because the schedule gets no kinder, and while the Grizzlies are one of many over-.500 teams the Bulls are seeing soon, they're barely over that mark, were coming off a game last night and the Bulls were rested two days and at home. When the Bulls jumped out to a 17-point first half lead it seemed like maybe the Griz would be out of gas tonight, but then the game slowly turned as it just seemed like they were able to score far more easily than the Bulls.
Then again the Bulls usually have trouble scoring, and while without Joakim they may be more skilled offensively they do miss out on the easy baskets. Derrick Rose had one spectacular dunk but otherwise struggled to finish inside, and then when he instead would kick out to an open shooter, that shooter would usually miss. Kirk Hinrich and Flip Murray were absolutely abysmal, combining to be 6-20 and 2-10 from three-point range. The Bulls had a lead until the middle of the fourth (again, this was a good game overall by them) and you'd have to think a couple more of those 3-point attempts go in in the 4th and they could've had this even while encountering such major difficulties with Randolph on the other end.
In fact one such 3-point miss by Hinrich was called a 'potential back-breaker' by Neil Funk...as the game was tied 90-90 with 4:48 remaining in the game. Interestingly enough when Gasol immediately followed with his own 3-point play that was not called a 'back-breaker' for the Grizzlies. Though as silly as designating any shot with that time and score situation such...in Memphis' case it actually could've fit.
In more worrisome news, Hinrich sprained the same ankle twice in the 2nd half, with that last occurrence knocking him out of the game. Obviously the Bulls can't afford for him to lose any time, and I don't mean that in the sarcastic 'the Bulls can't afford to lose Hinrich ever because they luuuuvvvv him' manner.
*Shooting 60% from the field since the trade deadline, by the way. He actually has shown a good post game and makes sure to use it when he has a mismatch advantage. Heck, with Noah out, Taj is actually one of my favorite Bulls to watch now, what with him not being gone after the season or being Kirk Hinrich.