Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bulls Hold On to Defeat Grizzlies 92-88 in Preseason Opener

By Sean Mackey

The shooting was poor and the passing was sloppy, but the Bulls were able to overcome a late game scoring drought to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 92-88 in their preseason opener Tuesday night. Luol Deng looked great, leading both teams in scoring with 18 points and 4 rebounds. New (old) back up center, Nazr Mohammed came away with a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Joakim Noah looked like he was back to his old self tallying 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Jerome Jordan came off the bench to lead the way for the Grizzlies with 13 points. Former Bulls scrub, Flip Murray chipped in 11 points off the bench as well.

I fortunately walked in during the huge 32-13 3rd quarter run which inevitably won the game for Chicago. It was nice to see how well Kirk Hinrich was running the floor with Noah, Deng and Rip. However, every time I see Noah run the floor now I get really nervous and think about that gruesome 90 degree ankle twist he had during the 1st round 76er’s game last season. Noah has to stay healthy if the Bulls want any sort of chance at the playoffs this season. I thought Nazr Mohammed played decently from what I could see (Stacey King already has nicknamed him “Nasty Nazr”). He seemed like he was in great shape and was getting back on defense as fast as he could during any sort of turnover situation (and there were a lot of those).

The Bulls shot a ridiculously terrible 1-21 in the final 12 minutes of the game. While Taj Gibson looked great defensively, he was just 1-7 from the field. He had a few hiccups including trying to save a ball that went right back to Memphis. Thibodeau let him have it during the time out for that mess up. Jimmy Butler played almost 25 minutes and went a disgusting 1-12 from the field. The rookie from Kentucky, Marquis Teague played just 3 minutes and had 2 turnovers and a foul. I know he came from a great program and looked decent in the tournament last year but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be buried on the bench this season. Nate Robinson will almost certainly be the second string point guard until Rose’s return. He showed moments of promise and hit all 6 of his free throws.

The Bulls were only able to stay in this game by their defense and by going 30-39 on free throws. The 4th quarter was one of the most dismal efforts I’ve ever seen in a game. Memphis trimmed the lead to 3 before hucking up a terrible shot for which Gibson thankfully grabbed the rebound and the game was over. I know it was just the first preseason game of the year but it looks like the new bench is going to need a lot of work.

The Bulls play again Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hopefully they can tweak some of their issues and forget this game ever happened.