Offensive woes doom Bulls in loss to Grizzlies

965205.png

Offensive woes doom Bulls in loss to Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Matched up with a team that in many ways is their mirror image -- one of the leagues best defenses, a rebounding juggernaut and in the absence of Derrick Rose (who starred in this city during his lone year of college basketball) an offense with an inside-out approach -- the Bulls fell to the Grizzlies, 80-71, Monday night at the FedEx Forum.

A low-scoring, defensive-minded and physical affair throughout after jumping out ahead of one of the best teams in the Western Conference, a tour-de-force effort by Memphis bench turned the tables and on a night when points were a luxury, the Bulls kept fighting, but didnt have enough to make a comeback.

In a rugged, defensive-oriented battle between two of the best teams on that side of the ball in the league, the Bulls (13-10) and Grizzlies (16-6) both started out slowly, but the visitors began to find their rhythm as the opening period progressed.

Carlos Boozer (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Marco Belinelli (13 points) got off to hot starts to shoulder the offensive burden for the guests, who played stellar defense on a physical, inside-dominant Memphis team.

Grizzlies forwards Zach Randolph (10 points, 15 rebounds) and Rudy Gay (12 points) were both held scoreless in the frame, while the hosts shot a horrific 18.2 percent from the field, as well as committing six turnovers to three for the Bulls, who have experienced ball-security issues all season long.

After a quarter of play, the Bulls held a 20-11 advantage.

The Grizzlies second unit was sparked by the interior toughness and defensive presence of big man Marreese Speights, the scoring and playmaking of Jerryd Bayless, the athleticism and versatility of swingman Quincy Pondexter, but most of all, the outside touch of Wayne Ellington (11 points).

The reserve shooting guard knocked down his first four shots, including a trio of three-pointers, to help Memphis storm back and rapidly overtake its guests in the second quarter, as Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins rode his bench in the second quarter.

With the Grizzlies having all of the momentum, the Bulls found themselves in a hole and trying to play from behind, despite the continued contributions of Boozer and Joakim Noahs (11 points, nine rebounds) typical high activity level.

At the intermission, the visitors trailed, 39-34.

After the break, Memphis advantage remained somewhat static, as Boozer was still the Bulls offensive focal point and opposing small forwards Luol Deng (11 points) and Gay of the hosts were both more assertive as scorers, while underrated point guard Mike Conley (17 points) was also more aggressive against Kirk Hinrich, in his first game back from a bruised left knee after missing the teams previous two contests.

The visitors simply couldnt get over the hump against the Grizzlies in the first part of the third period, as every positive play was countered by the similarly styled opponent.

As the quarter waned on, the Bulls continually inched closer, making it a single-possession game at various junctures, but were rebuffed at every turn, but the deeper Grizzlies, playing with at least an equal amount of hustle and featuring more offensive weapons, kept the pressure on their guests through the end of the quarter.

Heading into the final stanza, the Bulls were on the wrong end of a 61-53 score.

At the outset of the fourth quarter, the Bulls second unit sparked the visitors, as reserves Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson came alive to help cut into the deficit they faced.

In the low-scoring affair, every basket was a precious commodity, making Butlers transition forays and timely half-court scores even more important, especially because Memphis continued to respond at every turn and Deng, the Bulls leading scorer, was having an off night offensively.

As the game entered its stretch run, the Grizzlies inside muscle began to wear down their guests, as the rebounding of Randolph and center Marc Gasol (11) gave the hosts second-chance opportunities on offense, while limiting the poor-shooting Bulls to just one shot attempt on the other end of the floor.

Although the difference in the contest remained in the single digits, the scrambling Bulls extended their pressure by frantically trapping in the backcourt and in typical fashion, they fought valiantly until the final buzzer, in the end, it was too much to overcome.

Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago

Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago

Jimmy Butler is headed to Minnesota to reunite with Tom Thibodeau.

And as the former face of the Bulls packs his bags to join the Timberwolves, Butler took to social media to say goodbye to Chicago and thank the fans for all they've done over the last six years:

Chicago, What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season. I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you. You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center. Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity. Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS... AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! - Jimmy G. Buckets (@staceyking21 )

A post shared by Jimmy Butler (@jimmybutler) on

Here's Butler's complete message:

Chicago,

What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season. 
I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you. 
You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center.

Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity. 
Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS... AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! - Jimmy G. Buckets 

A classy message from Butler that exudes the exact opposite tone of his personal trainer immediately following the Thursday night trade.

Absolutely love that he signed it "Jimmy G. Buckets" at the end, shouting out Stacey King with one of the most unique nicknames in Chicago sports history.

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

A few years ago, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said on CSN's SportsTalk Live that Mark Buehrle had a beer -- or a few beers -- before saving Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. Cooper, with a bit of a grin, told David Kaplan that "there's no telling how many beers he had before that save."

Buehrle, in a story for the Players' Tribune, cleared that up:

The thing a lot of people talk about with that one is this rumor that I drank a few beers before I got the save in our Game 3 victory.

There’s been some stuff that’s come out on that topic, but I feel like you all should really hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. So, here goes….

In short: Yeah, sure, O.K. fine, so I had a few. I can admit to that.

Buehrle explained in his first-person article that he only had three beers, max, which wasn't unusual given he had just started the second game of the series against the Houston Astros. More from Buehrle:

First off, no one on the planet would’ve ever guessed that I was going to see the field in Game 3. I had started the previous game of the series and threw 100 pitches in that one. I would’ve bet my house that I wasn’t going to pitch a day and a half later. Anyone would have.

So, that being the case, you better believe that I was gonna do what came natural to me — grab a few beers during the early innings, kick back and enjoy the game like everyone else.

How can you blame him? Cooper told him there was no way the White Sox would be using him that night in Houston unless the game went to 13 or 14 innings. Every time Buehrle went for another cold one, he checked in with his coaches -- hey, you still don't need me, right? 

Of course, the White Sox unexpectedly needed Buehrle after Brad Ausmus reached on an error on what was Damaso Marte's 39th pitch of the game. With the winning run at the plate and Marte over his season high in pitches (35) the call went to Buehrle. 

Buehrle retired Adam Everett to end the game, recording the only save of his career. That he had a few beers earlier that night only added No. 56's legendary status on the South Side. 

More: Chris Kamka's 56 reasons why White Sox fans love Mark Buehrle