Rudy Gay and the Memphis Grizzlies dismantled the Chicago Bulls 102-86 on Monday to take their third straight victory and win their fifth in the eight games since losing Zach Randolph to injury. Also, the Grizzlies snapped the Bulls' five game winning streak as Derrick Rose had to watch the game from the sidelines.
Having Rose out of the game was a game-changing surprise. Rose had missed a game on Thursday against the Washington Wizards with a sprained left big toe, but played the next two games. Surely, everyone in Memphis was surprised to see the reigning MVP sit out, with the announcement that he'd sit coming within an hour before tip-off.
The Grizzlies had it much easier with Rose out. Read along for a breakdown of that and other keys to the Grizzlies' rout of the Bulls.
The difference between the Bulls with Derrick Rose and without him is night and day. With him, the offense runs smoothly. Rose makes the right passes to open up looks for his Bulls teammates at the right time. Moreover, Rose knows when to take advantage of lapses in the defense much better than his backups.
The Bulls were spastic and chaotic against the Wizards without Rose in the lineup and they were just the same against the Grizzlies without him. John Lucas III, who started again in the place of Rose, couldn't establish an early rhythm to the offense. He often hurried the offense and made passes down low that put Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah in tough spots.
Marreese Speights was keen to take good positioning on those plays, limiting Boozer to difficult attempts.
Lucas didn't shoot well, hitting three of nine field goal attempts on his way to eight points and two assists.
Defensively, the Bulls were hard pressed to stop the Grizzlies. Mike Conley had an easy time breaking passes into the lane. Also, the Grizzlies rotated very freely on offense.
Rudy Gay and Marreese Speights had terrific outings on Monday against the Bulls. Gay was hot early and often. He hit four of five field-goal attempts in the first quarter. On a couple of occasions, Gay made big plays in transition.
Late in the second quarter, Gay stole the ball from Joakim Noah on one end, took it across court, crossed Noah on the left wing and drove in for the dunk.
Gay had one of his best games of the season. He had his third most accurate shooting performance, shooting 11-of-18 from the field for 24 points. Also, Gay had five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
He led an energetic charge by the Grizzlies that saw them score 17 fast-break points.
Meanwhile, Speights showed his continued growth with his best game yet for the Grizzlies. Speights knocked down seven of 16 shots en route to 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. His 34 minutes and 12 rebounds were his highest totals yet in a Grizzlies uniform.
With Gay, Conley and Marc Gasol resting in the first few minutes of the second quarter, Speights helped keep the energy high by pulling in four rebounds in a three minute span.
Later in the second quarter, Speights saved the ball after Gay had his shot blocked, feeding the ball back to Gay for a fadeaway in the lane.
Speights had 12 points in the first half alone. While he didn't shoot well, Speights is surely earning his minutes and impressing Lionel Hollins.
The Grizzlies ran with very high energy in the first half to put the game out of reach. The Grizzlies made several great plays in transition. Midway through the second quarter, Conley took a rebound on the Bulls' end and ran to the other end for the score. Memphis scored 34 points in the paint. The Grizzlies finished the half on a 16-3 run to take a 58-38 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies took advantage of the significant spacing the Bulls gave them defensively to shoot 67 percent in the first half.
The Bulls simply couldn't keep up with the Grizzlies, as they shot 37 percent from the field in the first half.
After the Grizzlies built up their 20-point halftime lead, they had to show they could finish, even at home. This didn't happen as easily against the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday. After the Grizzlies built a 20-point lead, the Hornets rallied back to come within two in the fourth quarter before the Grizzlies ran off a 10-0 run to put them away.
The Grizzlies were close to facing the same predicament on Monday. The Bulls put on a 15-4 run from the latter part of the third quarter into the fourth to bring the margin to nine. Then, the Grizzlies put the Bulls away a 15-3 run. Rudy Gay connected on a three-point play and Marc Gasol hit three jump shots to key the run.
Finishing with energy is just as important as starting with it, and the Grizzlies managed to keep it going long enough to close out a solid win.
The Grizzlies were sure to make the 104-64 drubbing at the hands of the Bulls a thing of the past. They didn't want to leave lingering memories of the game in which they shot 31 points en route to the second lowest point total in team history.
In the pregame huddle, Mike Conley told his teammates, "Let's not forget what happened."
With that in mind the Grizzlies had control of the game early. The Grizzlies opened with a 6-0 lead and finished the first quarter leading 28-21. They hit seven of their first eight shots. The Grizzlies' open was much different from when they missed 13 of their first 17 field-goal attempts.
To see the Grizzlies win five of eight games since the devastating loss in Chicago and stand 6-6 without Zach Randolph is very promising.