Preps Talk

Offensive woes doom Bulls in loss to Grizzlies

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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.

Power Rankings: #9 - Marist

Power Rankings: #9 - Marist

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Marist

Head coach: Ron Dawczak

Assistant coaches: Matt Shalvis (OC), Pete Gabel (DC), Jim Looney (OL), Joe Watson (OL), Chris Bohanek (WRs), Tony Turek (DL), Rich Watson (DL), Matt Jedrey (LBs) and Brendan Garrett (DBs)

How they fared in 2017: 11-1 (7-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference). Marist made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Oak Park-River Forest and Curie then lost to Loyola Academy in quarterfinal round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Brother Rice
Sept. 1 vs Mishawaka Indiana
Sept 7 @ Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 14 vs St. Viator
Sept. 21 vs Joliet Catholic Academy
Sept. 28 @ Marian Catholic
Oct. 5 @ Nazareth Academy
Oct. 12 vs Marian Central Catholic
Oct. 19 @ Benet Academy

Biggest storyline: Can the Redhawks replace a handful of key starters from last season and keep moving forward in Class 8A?

Names to watch this season: QB Mike Markett and WR Jadon Thompson

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will look to reload in a few key spots this summer, especially up front on the defensive line with the graduation losses of DT Elijah Teague (Minnesota) and DL Gavin McCabe (Indiana). 

EDGY's Early Take: The Redhawks once again look to be loaded on the offense side of the football for the 2018 season. Senior QB Mike Markett is back after a strong 2017 junior campaign and Markett has multiple weapons including highly recruited junior WR Jadon Thompson along with senior WR Billy Skalitzky and senior WR Denny Hogan. While the Redhawks' defense will be missing a few headliners from last season, this is still a unit with seven returning starters back this fall. Keep an eye on senior OLB Kendric Nowling (Eastern Michigan) for the Redhawks this season.

A great escape and a positive 'learning moment' for Lucas Giolito

A great escape and a positive 'learning moment' for Lucas Giolito

So often in this rebuilding season, Rick Renteria has talked of "learning moments," and as is evident from the team's win-loss numbers and many other statistics, those "learning moments" have largely ended in negative results.

It's not to say the lessons haven't been valuable ones, and growing pains now could lead to big-time success down the road, when the White Sox shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

But Tuesday night in Detroit, one young player, a significant piece of the team's long-term plans, succeeded in such a moment. And it looked like a step forward for a guy who's called himself one of the most inconsistent pitchers in baseball this season.

Lucas Giolito looked like he was heading for another disappointing outing early, when he relinquished a three-run lead in the first inning, allowing three runs that grew his first-inning ERA on the season to 8.63. But he settled down nicely from there, allowing just two base runners over the next four innings and allowing the White Sox to jump back ahead, which they did, leading 6-3 by the time Giolito's biggest challenge came around.

The Tigers loaded the bases to start the bottom of the sixth, putting three on with nobody out for Giolito, who has been susceptible to the big inning often this season, including in his previous start, when he gave up six runs in the second inning against the New York Yankees.

Renteria could've pulled the plug there and brought in a fresh reliever to try and limit the damage and keep his team's three-run lead alive. Instead, he allowed Giolito to stay in — another example of certain developmental things being more important than wins and losses this season — and the right-hander rewarded him. Giolito got a shallow flyball, a strikeout and a popup on the infield to end the inning with no runs scoring.

Giolito was obviously happy about that, and cameras showed him sharing a smile with Renteria in the dugout.

The White Sox won the game and now have a 6-2 record in Giolito's last eight starts. They're .500 (12-12) in his 24 starts this season, an interesting note, if not a terribly meaningful one, considering the team's overall record is 33 games below the .500 mark.

These "learning moments" have defined this developmental season on the South Side, and often they've come with the caveat of growing pains and the promise of a better tomorrow, despite a somewhat painful present.

This moment, though, came with a very visible sign of things moving in the right direction for Giolito. It doesn't mean Giolito will take off from here. But it's a good sign and something the White Sox have to be happy about as Giolito continues to develop at the major league level.