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Second quarter a downer in Bulls’ 80-71 loss to Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay left passes ball past Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng (9) during first half an NBA basketball game

Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay, left, passes the ball past Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Daniel Johnston)

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Updated: January 19, 2013 6:24AM



MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Coach Tom Thibodeau’s hands were up even before the rim started rattling on Rudy Gay’s breakaway dunk.

Thibodeau wanted the timeout with just over a minute left in the game Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies, even though his team was down by 10.

He would’ve been better off raising his hands in surrender.

The Grizzlies were better rebounding, better shooting from beyond the three-point line and better where it counted most — talent-wise — so all the timeouts and in-game adjustments weren’t going to save the Bulls from the inevitable: an 80-71 Grizzlies victory.

Thibodeau said the timeout was two quarters too late.

“I saw the second quarter was the problem, outscored 28-14,’’ Thibodeau said. “Great first quarter, terrible second quarter. You don’t rebound on the road, you don’t take care of the ball, you’re not going to win.’’

The Bulls (13-10) started the game with the mind-set that it didn’t matter where the game was being played or what place the 16-6 Grizzlies were in. Memphis was just another team standing in the way of progress.

That was evident on the scoreboard as the Bulls built a 20-11 lead, holding Memphis to 4-for-22 (18.2 percent) shooting.

But all that progress went out the window in the next 12 minutes as the Grizzlies got hot from outside, jump-started by back-to-back three-pointers from Wayne Ellington.

When the dust settled, the Bulls’ nine-point first-quarter lead had become a five-point halftime deficit.

“No, they play hard, that’s how they play,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if it was anything Memphis did differently. “You got to take care of the ball, and we didn’t do that, then got in a hole, a big hole. The whole game changed in the second quarter. We didn’t cover the line, let guys get loose, not reading penetrating drives, over-helping, not recognizing what’s going on in the game, throwing possessions away. Can’t do that. Not against a quality team, not against any team.’’

Center Joakim Noah wasn’t about to name names, but he definitely wasn’t going to credit Memphis for anything it did in turning the game around.

“I think it’s always what we fail to do,’’ Noah said.

As far as the 71 points — the fewest the Bulls have scored in almost four-plus years — Noah said that was again an instance when they needed to look in the mirror.

“I feel like we got a lot of good stops, then we went in transition, and it’s been going on for a little bit: We’ve got to be better scoring in transition,’’ Noah said. “I mean we’re getting good stops, getting out on the break and not getting those easy baskets. We’re turning the ball over a little bit too much. If we can score on those, we’ll be better.’’

Forward Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

“It’s a step back because we lost,’’ Noah said. “That’s the only reason it’s a step back.

‘‘But you know what? There’s another game [Tuesday night]. We don’t have time to get too down. Learn from it and move on.’’



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