The Bulls found themselves in familiar territory Saturday night against Memphis; overtime for the third straight game.
There wouldn’t be any game-winners this time as Carlos Boozer’s three-point try came up short and the Bulls fell 85-82 against the Grizzlies to end their overtime streak this season at three.
Starting in place of Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler led the team with a career-high 18 points and eight rebounds. Boozer added 17 points and 14 rebounds.
The Bulls (23-16) fought from being down 17 in the third quarter and had a chance to win it in regulation.
“It sucks to come up on the short end of this one after fighting so hard to get back in it after being down so many,” Boozer said. “So many guys played great. It’s tough to come up on the losing end of this one, but we just have to get back in the lab and get ready for Monday’s game.”
After a strong start to the first quarter, in which they assisted on 10 of their 11 made field goals to go up 22-18, the Bulls went cold in the second quarter, shooting 5-of-18, committing six turnovers after none in the first and were outscored 26-12.
Their problems continued after halftime as the Grizzlies took a 52-36 lead midway into the third.
“No defense, turnovers, poor execution –one thing led to another,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “When we made them feel our pressure, they had a hard time and when they made us feel their pressure, we have to respond better.
“We had a hard time scoring,” he continued. “In the second quarter, we got in a big hole. We started the third and we couldn’t get organized, so the hole got bigger.”
The Bulls went into the fourth down 60-47.
They would start the fourth on an 8-0 run and their first lead since the second quarter came on a Butler free throw to make it 70-69 with 3:19 remaining.
Robinson’s three-pointer with 1:32 remaining gave the Bulls a 75-72 lead, but Memphis would convert a pair of free throws and a Marc Gasol (19 points) hook put the Grizzlies ahead 76-75 with 34 seconds left.
Belinelli would then drive to the hoop and draw a blocking foul on Gasol, but would split his trip to the line and after a missed opportunity by Zach Randolph (13 points, 19 rebounds) on one end, Robinson would miss a desperation turnaround jumper to end regulation.
In overtime, it was the All-Star frontline of the Grizzlies scored 7 of their 9 points in what proved to being the deciding factor, despite the Bulls fight to try and steal it.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in,” Thibodeau said. “You have to stay disciplined. You can’t allow frustration to take you away from what you’re trying to get done out there. It’s one of those things where you have to keep battling. In the end, whatever’s necessary, that’s what you have to do to win. You got to get in the fight, it’s physical and you can’t get thrown around. When you get smacked, you got to be able to still get your job done.”
The Bulls are 11-11 at home and will host the Los Angeles Lakers (17-22) on Monday