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Bulls outplayed by Grizzlies in 80-71 road loss

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) gets an offensive rebound next Memphis Grizzlies' Wayne Ellingt(3) Marreese Speights (5) during first half

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) gets an offensive rebound next to Memphis Grizzlies' Wayne Ellington (3) and Marreese Speights (5) during first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Daniel Johnston)

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Updated: December 17, 2012 10:40PM



MEMPHIS – Tom Thibodeau’s hands were up even before the rim started rattling courtesy of the Rudy Gay breakaway dunk.

The Bulls coach wanted the timeout with a just over a minute left in Monday night’s game against Memphis, despite his team down 10 points.

He would have been better off raising his hands in surrender.

On a night in which the Grizzlies were better rebounding, better shooting from beyond the three-point line and better where it counted most – talent-wise – all the timeouts and in-game adjustments weren’t going to save the Bulls from the inevitable: Memphis 80, Bulls 71.

As far as Thibodeau’s timeout, the coach felt like it was two quarters too late.

“I saw the second quarter was the problem – outscored 28-14,’’ Thibodeau insisted. “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.’’

What seemed to be eating at Thibodeau was the fact that the Bulls [13-10] started the game with the mindset 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 just 4-of-22 (18.2 percent) from the field.

Then all that progress went out the window in the next 12 minutes, as the Grizzlies got hot from outside, jumpstarted by back-to-back Wayne Ellington 3-pointers.

When the dust settled, that nice little nine-point first quarter lead was a five-point halftime deficit.

“No, they play hard, that’s how they play,’’ Thibodeau replied, when asked if it was anything Memphis did differently. “You got to take care of the ball and we didn’t do that, and 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.’’

Joakim Noah wasn’t about to name names, as far as his own team’s breakdowns, but definitely wasn’t going to credit Memphis for anything they 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 amount the Bulls have scored in a game 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.’’

Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 16 points, as well as 13 rebounds, as now the Bulls have very little time to hang their heads.

“It’s a step back because we lost,’’ Noah added. “That’s the only reason it’s a step back. But you know what? There’s another one [Tuesday night], we don’t have time to get too down, learn from it and move on.’’



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