75-point half lifts Bulls to massive win over Grizzlies
|Sunday, April 2, 2023, 8:00 PM- -|
CHICAGO - It was a tale of two halves for the Chicago Bulls as they continue to make their late-season playoff push. With five games to go and a three-game lead for the final playoff spot, the Bulls need to win three of their last five games to clinch on their own.
Looking at their remaining schedule, the Bulls have some winnable games and some challenging games, including Sunday's contest against the Memphis Grizzlies (49-29). If the Bulls want to take care of business by winning games, they must beat one of the three playoff-caliber teams remaining on their schedule.
Through the first half on Sunday, it was more of the same for the Bulls as the Grizzlies had their way, with Chicago outscoring them 68-55 after the first 24 minutes. Knowing they needed to be at their best to stage a second-half comeback, the Bulls not only came out firing in the second half, but played their most complete and dominating half of the season without question.
Chicago stormed out of the locker room to score 75 second-half points and outscored the Grizzlies 75-39 over the final 24 minutes. That includes a 40-16 beatdown in the third quarter as the Bulls picked up the massive 128-107 win over the Grizzlies to cut their magic number down to two games with four games left to play.
Anytime you get a game like this, you know there is a lot of production from the top down, starting with Zach Lavine. After struggling in his last two games, Lavine was facing a Grizzlies team that had held him in check the past two seasons. He picked a great time to break out of that slump, leading all scorers with 36 points while dishing out nine assists.
Along with Lavine came Demar DeRozan, who is starting to get back to his old self in recent games. He may not have shot the ball well, going 11-26, but he joined Lavine in the 30-point category as he finished with 31 points to give the Bulls a lethal scoring duo. They played a huge role and carried the team all game.
That said, Chicago still had plenty of production from the rest of their lineup, and when that happens, this team is at their best. Coby White continued to thrive off the bench and led the unit with 19 points. Unlike in many games where he relied on the three-point shot, White only hit two triples, but made six two-pointers in the win.
You also had Nikola Vucevic quietly put together another strong double-double as he wrapped up the double-digit scorers with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Throw in 12 points from Patrick Williams, and you can see why the Bulls offense was off and running, especially during the second half.
Memphis has had a surprisingly good season, and Ja Morant has played a vital part in that. The freakishly athletic PG has carried the team offensively, but the Bulls did a great job against him and held him to 17 points, including single digits in the second half. With him having a less-than-typical performance, it would be up to others to pick up the slack.
Leave it to Jaren Jackson Jr for that, as the PF had a massive game for Memphis, leading the way with 31 points and eight rebounds. You also had Desmond Bane drop 21 points on 66% shooting, as those two had the hot hands for the Grizzlies.
With Morant joining those two in terms of double-digit scorers, the Grizzlies had one more starter in double figures, with Dillon Brooks adding 14 points. Comparing starter for starter, the Grizzlies held their own against Chicago. The difference in this one came down to the bench, where the Bulls Bench was far superior.
Memphis saw their bench score a total of 24 points, while White and Williams had 31 points between them. Any time two players outscore your entire bench, it makes for a challenging game, and the Grizzlies were not having fun in the second half. The Bulls return to the court on Tuesday when they take on the Atlanta Hawks. That game has significant playoff implications as the Bulls trail the Hawks by one game in the standings and could overtake the eighth or ninth seed with a win.