Friday, March 07, 2014
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Preview: Grizzlies at Bulls

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[March 07, 2014]  Two of the stingiest teams in the NBA meet when the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Playing without star forward Zach Randolph, who was out with the flu, the Grizzlies dropped a 103-94 decision at Brooklyn on Wednesday to fall to 1-1 on their current three-game road trip. Memphis has allowed at least 103 points in four of its last five games, an odd stretch for a team that ranks third in the league in scoring defense (95.2), one spot behind Chicago (92.3)

The Bulls, who are kicking off a season-long six-game homestand, put their defensive mettle on display and showcased a balanced scoring attack in a 105-94 win at Detroit on Wednesday, their 10th win in the last 12 games. Joakim Noah recorded a triple-double and D.J. Augustin and Taj Gibson combined for 48 points off the bench as Chicago bounced back from a sloppy effort two nights earlier in Brooklyn. Jimmy Butler, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds versus the Pistons, produced 26 points in a 95-91 win at Memphis on Dec. 30.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, CSN Chicago (Chicago)

ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (34-26): The nine-point loss to the Nets does not suggest how one-sided that game was, as Memphis trailed by 19 midway through the first quarter and was down 30 late in the third. Ed Davis, the replacement for Randolph, was scoreless in 13 minutes while getting carved up on the defensive end, reserve sharpshooter Mike Miller received stitches for a cut over his left eye and point guard Mike Conley was 0-for-8 from the floor with six turnovers. "We had some guys really, really struggle tonight," head coach Dave Joerger told reporters after his team remained a game out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference entering Thursday.


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ABOUT THE BULLS (34-27): Noah has generated some mild MVP buzz for carrying Chicago out of an early-season hole with some of the best all-around play in the league. The triple-double (11 rebounds, 11 assists and 10 points) was his second in three games and third in a span of 12 contests. However, Noah has been stifled by Randolph, Marc Gasol and the rest of the Grizzlies; he had eight points on 2-of-9 shooting and four turnovers in the win at Memphis in December and averages 5.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 10 career meetings, both of which represent his lowest marks against any NBA team.

BUZZER-BEATERS

  1. Augustin is averaging 21.7 points in 28 minutes over his last three games

  2. Conley, who is tied with Randolph for the team lead in scoring (17.3), has been held to single digits in four of eight games since returning from a sprained ankle last month.

  3. Chicago has won five straight at home, a run that dates all the way back to a loss to Minnesota at the United Center on Jan. 27.

PREDICTION: Bulls 98, Grizzlies 95

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