Ja Morant, Grizzlies Roll Past Bulls as Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, More Sit Out for CHI

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 17, 2022

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball against Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill

The Memphis Grizzlies just keep on rolling.

After seeing their 11-game winning streak snapped Friday, the Grizz responded by hammering a short-handed Chicago Bulls team Monday, 119-106, behind big nights from Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.


Ja doing Ja things live on TNT! <a href="https://t.co/Ss8NRXkP6n">pic.twitter.com/Ss8NRXkP6n</a>

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

shooting ultralight beams. <br><br>9 in the first half for <a href="https://twitter.com/DBane0625?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DBane0625</a> <a href="https://t.co/WVLtNUfUeP">pic.twitter.com/WVLtNUfUeP</a>

Since starting the year 9-10, the Grizzlies (31-15) have won 22 of their last 27 contests.

And yes, Morant did something special. He always does:


🤯 JA GOES 360!<a href="https://twitter.com/memgrizz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@memgrizz</a> live on TNT! <a href="https://t.co/Y2lfTXvoPN">pic.twitter.com/Y2lfTXvoPN</a>

Charles P. Pierce @CharlesPPierce

Ja Morant just did a damn magic trick in midair.

The Grizzlies didn't face Chicago's full complement of talent, however. Zach LaVine missed the game with a knee injury, while Lonzo Ball missed the contest with knee soreness. Alex Caruso was also out after just being cleared from the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Mark Schanowski @MarkSchanowski

Bulls need to get Caruso &amp; Green back ASAP. The body language not good today in Memphis &amp; they didn’t have a chance with only 10 players available &amp; Vucevic going scoreless in the 1st half. 2 more tough games coming up vs. Cavs &amp; Bucks.

The good news for the Bulls was that Saturday's MRI on LaVine's knee showed no structural damage, and he'll be reevaluated next week.

"Well, obviously very optimistic and very grateful that it wasn't something more," Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters over the weekend. "That's why they wanted to do the MRI, so he'll continue to get therapy and we'll re-evaluate him after a period of time. I don't think it's something that's long-term, which is a good thing. So the biggest thing is how does he respond to therapy, treatment, those kinds of things."

If Monday's tough loss was any indication, however, life without LaVine—even in the short term—is going to be difficult for the Bulls.

Key Stats

Ja Morant, MEM: 25 points

Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM: 14 points, five rebounds, five blocks

Desmond Bane, MEM: 25 points

DeMar DeRozan, CHI: 24 points, five assists

Nikola Vucevic, CHI: Seven points, 10 rebounds, two blocks

Coby White, CHI: 16 points, five assists

Bane Was Feeling It

Morant is the main topic around Memphis on most days, and for good reason—he's a highlight waiting to happen. And he was hardly chopped liver Monday.

But Bane was excellent, serving as yet another reminder of the promise the young Grizzlies boast.

Bryce Hayes @nxtprodigy

“Desmond Bane is a leading candidate for Most Improved Player and has been a borderline All-Star.” - Stan Van Gundy <a href="https://t.co/3RUPSosQcO">pic.twitter.com/3RUPSosQcO</a>

Evan Barnes〽️ @evan_b

This is why the Grizzlies have been good since Thanksgiving. Balance. Defense. Everybody eats after Ja/Bane/JJJ get the party going. <br><br>Much better showing on national TV than Friday.

After being a rotational player as a rookie, Bane has emerged as one of Memphis' most important players and has started every game he's played this year. There aren't many teams more fun to watch than the Grizz right now, and Bane is one of the reasons why.

It Wasn't Vucevic's Night

While LaVine is out, the Bulls are going to need DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic to do the heavy lifting. While DeRozan did his part, the Bulls starting center struggled immensely, shooting just 2-of-13 from the field.

K.C. Johnson @KCJHoop

Donovan puts in four subs and Ayo (who usually is a sub). Vucevic didn't play in 4th after 2-13 night.

Herb Lawrence @Ecnerwal23

Vucevic was sleeping through the 1st half

Vucevic, to his credit, worked hard on the glass. His shot just wasn't falling.

The veteran has largely been the third fiddle in Chicago behind LaVine and DeRozan this season. Now, the Bulls need him to step up. He didn't do so Monday.

What's Next?

The Grizzlies travel to Milwaukee to face the defending champion Bucks on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. The Bulls will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on that same date and time.