No LaVine, No Problem: Bulls rout Grizzlies
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

No LaVine, No Problem: Bulls rout Grizzlies

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - With the trade deadline less than a month away, nine games if you are keeping track of the Chicago Bulls (21-23) schedule, there will be a lot of decisions for this organization to make. On the one hand, the team has continued to play well after falling nine games under .500 earlier in the season and is now closing in on the .500 mark. They are also in the middle of the playoff picture, holding down a play-in spot.

On the other hand, you have a player in Zach Lavine who wants out, and when he is off the court, the Bulls are a better team. That has been the case for quite a while, and low and behold, LaVine was out of Saturday's game at the United Center with a sprained ankle and could miss up to two weeks.

Injuries are part of the game, but in this case, LaVine's injuries this season have been a blessing in disguise for the Bulls, as they have turned into a completely different team without him on the court. The same can't be said about the Memphis Grizzlies (15-27), who have been without Ja Morant for most of the season. After missing the first 25 games of the season due to a suspension, Morant returned for seven games before tearing his labrum and needing season-ending surgery. What was a rough season, to begin with, got much worse, and this will be a year to forget for Memphis.

With two stars out of the lineup, this matchup didn't have as much intrigue as it would've, but don't tell that to the Bulls who came out firing. Smelling blood in the water, Chicago started off strong and outscored the Grizzlies in every quarter to secure the 125-96 victory. That included a 39-27 fourth-quarter advantage and a 36-29 advantage in the third to outscore Memphis by 19 in the second half.

Anytime you can outscore a team in all four quarters, you will be in great shape, and the Bulls never seemed to be in any danger. One thing you notice when you watch the Bulls play without LaVine is how much better the ball movement is and how balanced their attack is. That was the case again, with seven players reaching double figures with four starters and three bench players.

Ironically, it was one of the bench players who had the biggest game of anyone as Ayo Dosunmu stepped up in a massive way. Dosunmu gave the Bulls 28 minutes off the bench and did so with a team-high 20 points on 7-10 shooting. He added six rebounds and four assists as he did a little of everything for the Bulls.

When it comes to the starting lineup, it was more of the same for Chicago as their new Big Three continued to deliver. Demar DeRozan led the starters with 18 points, with Coby White adding 17. Looking to keep his double-double streak alive was the big man Nikola Vucevic, and it was another day at the office with 11 points and 11 boards.

However, Patrick Williams deserves a ton of credit as he put forth his best game in about a month. Getting back into the starting lineup with LaVine out, Williams showed the aggressive nature the Bulls are hoping to see more of from him to finish with 15 points and five rebounds. With four of the Bulls five starters landing in double figures, you had to like the Bulls chances even if none of them had an overly massive game.

That is when having a strong bench comes in handy and the Bulls bench came to play. Sure, Dosunmu was the leader, but Andre Drummond stepped up with 15 points and 10 rebounds, with Jevon Carter adding 12 points in one of his better showings of the season.

Without Morant running the offense, the Grizzlies are a shell of who they once were, and that shouldn't come as a surprise. They still have Jaron Jackson Jr, who led all scorers with 26 points and six boards. Jackson isn't talked about enough, but he has been one of the more consistent PFs for the better part of five years.

Not only was he the only Grizzly with more than 20 points, but even with five players in double figures, he was the only one to have 15 points. Sharp Shooter Luke Kennard added 14 points, as did Vince Williams Jr, to round out the starters in double figures. Memphis then had David Roddy (11 points) and GG Jackson (10 points) come off the bench, but it was nowhere near enough to take down the Bulls.

Chicago will head out West on Monday with a date against the Phoenix Suns. When you look at the Bulls next six games, four of them appear winnable with the other two being toss up games. This stretch will determine what this team does at the deadline, and it could make or break their playoff hopes.


It was more of the same for the Windy City Bulls (2-8) on Saturday as they were blown out by the Long Island Nets (7-4) 123-112. This was coming off a loss to the same Nets team on Friday as the Bulls' season-long struggles continue. For whatever reason, the Bulls' success during the Winter Showcase part of the season hasn't translated, and things aren't looking good for the Bulls.

Anytime you have six players land in double figures, it's hard to fathom losing by double digits, but that is what the Bulls did in this one. Quentin Jackson led the way for the Bulls with 24 points and nine assists and was the only player with more than 20 for the Bulls. Jalen Harris and Onurlap Bitim added 17 points while combining to hit 7-17 from distance.

Rounding out the starters for the Bulls were Henri Drell (18 points) and Adama Sanogo (12 points) as the starters did their job. Sanogo had one of his worst offensive games and one of his worst overall games, with only six rebounds. Chris Clemons rounded out the Bulls double-figure scorers with 14 off the bench, but it still wasn't enough.

Like Windy City, the Nets had six players in double figures, but most had better overall nights. Keon Johnson and his 24 points off the bench led the way for the Nets. He was joined by Jordan Hall (20 points) and Kennedy Chandler (19 points) as they formed a fantastic trio. Kyler Edwards and Jalen Wilson added 17 and 16 points to round out the starters, with David Muoka chipping in with 10 off the bench.

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