I'm going to be honest, I didn't really see much of this game, but I wanted to have a quick recap up before Matt comes along later with more. The Bulls lost an 85-82 overtime heartbreaker to the Grizzlies on Saturday night, in a game that they really had no business being in in the first place. Under the circumstances, I have to applaud the Bulls for getting the game to overtime. While the final result was disappointing, the loss is nothing to be ashamed of.
Playing without Luol Deng because of a hamstring injury, the Bulls started pretty strong, only to go through one of their patented prolonged scoring droughts throughout the second and third quarters. The Grizzlies led by as many as 17 in the third quarter, and the Bulls could have easily packed it in for the night.
However, the Bulls, led by Jimmy Butler (who played 48 minutes, heh), fought valiantly and had a chance to win in regulation before Nate Robinson's jumper missed in the final seconds. Butler shook off a slow start and scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, doing a lot of his damage at the free throw line. Butler also did a nice job limiting Rudy Gay to 6-of-18 shooting, although Gay has been limiting himself all season. There's a reason the Grizzlies are looking to trade him.
The Bulls appeared to run out of gas in the overtime period, not scoring over the first three-plus minutes of the extra frame and falling behind by six. But once again, they fought back and had multiple opportunities to tie the game, but they simply didn't convert.
A few things of note:
- Joakim Noah mysteriously only played 27 minutes and was effectively benched down the stretch. Noah did have 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks, but he was a -19 and really cooled off after a hot start. Tom Thibodeau often rides with the hot hands in games, and in this one it was Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. But Thibs strangely went to Nazr Mohammed instead of Noah when Gibson fouled out in the overtime. Thibs repeatedly called it "a coaching decision" after the game and Noah didn't speak to the media. Maybe it was Thibs sending a message or maybe it was just a rest thing. Who knows?
- As mentioned, Boozer and Gibson both played pretty well. Boozer got yet another double-double with 17 points and 14 boards, although it was on a not-so-efficient 7-of-19 shooting. He also committed five turnovers. But I'll cut him some slack considering he was going against an excellent frontline. Gibson had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks before fouling out.
- The Bulls' guards were atrocious. Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton combined to go 11-of-35 from the field. That just won't cut it against a good opponent.
- Nice to see the Bulls actually be the team that makes a fourth quarter run as opposed to the one trying to choke it away. While the Bulls ultimately lost, major kudos on the comeback.