Well, by the looks of things basketball fans really really missed the NBA and didn't hold much of a grudge as I thought they would. For now. After the 1998-'99 lockout, television ratings and attendance significantly dropped. Au contraire says 2011-12. The LA Times reports that the five Christmas day opener produced healthy ratings on TNT, ABC and ESPN, including ABC drawing in 11 million viewers for the Bulls-Lakers game. Twenty-five of the first 32 games in the shortened season were sellouts which is up from 19 of the first 32 last season. Maybe fans want to get their NBA fix in quick while it lasts. After the holidays, however attendance might fall, but the NBA is prepared for that. The NBA encouraged teams to make around 500 tickets per game available at 10 or less according to NBA Executive Vice President Chris Granger. Granger told the LA Times that about one million 10 tickets will be availble over the course of the season.There have also been plenty of subtle, or not-so subtle reminders that the NBA is back. In Atlanta, the Hawks operated toll booths during a morning rush and the Timberwolves staffed a drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant. And let's not forget the Bulls showcased their six championship trophies throughout the city prior to the beginning of the season. These fan-friendly initiatives could play a big part in the jump from 90.3 percent capacity for the full 2010-11 season to a now 99.2 percent capacity. But, time will tell if the stands will continue to fill. Have your views changed? Did you back off or are you just as a big of a fan as you were last season?
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Doug McDermott scored a career-high 31 points, Jimmy Butler had a pair of key baskets in the closing minute and the Chicago Bulls beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 on Sunday night.
The Bulls broke a 104-all tie with 25 seconds left on a 15-footer from Butler and a pair of free throws by McDermott. Butler also had a go-ahead 18-footer with 53 seconds left and finished with 16 points to help Chicago win its second straight.
Taj Gibson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls.
Mike Conley led Memphis with 28 points and eight assists, and Marc Gasol had 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Chicago was without second-leading scorer Dwyane Wade, who did not play on the second night of a back-to-back after the Bulls beat New Orleans at home Saturday.
The game featured 16 lead changes and 11 ties, with neither team holding a double-digit lead.
Most of McDermott's damage came in the first half after the Bulls struggled shooting in the latter part of the first quarter. McDermott came off the bench to reverse the trend.
McDermott scored 20 points in the first eight minutes of the second quarter, moving Chicago's lead to eight. He had 22 points for the half and the Bulls led 52-46 at the break.
Bulls: Nikola Mirotic missed his fourth straight game dealing with an illness. ... F Paul Zipser, a rookie from Germany, started his second game and second straight after coming off the bench in his first 10 appearances this season. ... McDermott converted a four-point play in the second quarter. ... McDermott's 22 first-half points were more than his total for the four previous games (21). ... Chicago scored 14 points in the first quarter, a season low for the opening frame. ... The Bulls are now 4-5 on the second night of back-to-backs.
Grizzlies: Gasol made a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, marking 17 games this season he has made multiple shots from outside the arc. ... Memphis made 11 3-pointers in the game and has converted at least 10 3s in 20 games this season, including 11 of the last 14 games.
This is the 15th season Memphis has hosted a game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The Grizzlies are 6-9 in the holiday game.
In recognition of the holiday, Memphis wore special MLK50 Pride uniforms. The black jerseys have sea foam blue numbers, letters and piping with the full T-shirt look instead of the normal sleeveless. The piping replicated the railing in front the rooms at the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated in 1968, and the blue color was similar to the doors on the rooms.
Wade's absence meant missing a reunion with Memphis coach David Fizdale. Both left the Miami Heat organization after last season - Wade signing with the Bulls and Fizdale getting his first head coaching job in Memphis. Fizdale said he is sort of a "basketball romantic" and would like to have seen Wade retire in Miami. But he predicted after the player's career "his statue will be out front and (Wade) will be remembered as the great player that he should be."
Bulls: Return home to face the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
Grizzlies: Memphis travels to Washington to face the Wizards on Wednesday night.