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The Memphis Grizzlies hosted the Chicago Bulls on Monday in their 20th consecutive game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After a rough first quarter, the Grizzlies broke free at last, and almost doubled their first-quarter scoring output.
The Grizzlies opened up a big lead and the game was casually moving until Memphis point guard Ja Morant and Tony Bradley grabbed each others' jerseys and were tangled up. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Steven Adams stepped in and carried the 6-10, 248-pound Bradley like a loaf of bread. The FedExForum crowd laughed at the Adams replay, chanted MVP for Morant and the Grizzlies (31-15) defeated the Bulls 119-106 on Monday.
Morant and Bradley were given double technical fouls.
"He tried to trip me," Morant said. "That ain't no basketball play. ... I ain't going for none of that, though. I don't do none of that pushing and shoving."
Six Grizzlies scored in double figures, led by Morant and Desmond Bane scoring 25 apiece. Brandon Clarke led the bench with 15 points. Memphis shot 10-for-25 from 3-point range.
Here are some observations from the game:
The Bulls (27-15) were missing Zach Lavine and Lonzo Ball, but DeMar Derozan has been an MVP candidate and Nikola Vucevic is one of the NBA's best post scorers. Neither of the two All-Stars had a normal game. DeRozan shot 10-of-24 and scored 24 points. Vucevic shot 2-for-13 and scored seven points.
That was because of the Memphis' defense. Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. made DeRozan shoot uncomfortably high-arcing jumpers. DeRozan usually has his way against bigger forwards and centers in switches. Adams made things tough on Vucevic by not letting him get good position on post touches.
The Grizzlies defense held Chicago to 43.5% shooting and forced 18 turnovers. They also had 14 steals and seven blocks. Five of those blocks were by Jackson. He recorded his fifth game of five or more blocks. He has 25 blocks in his last six games.
"I'm just reading what's going on," Jackson said. "It's really just happening on the fly. Everything is happening so fast."
Desmond Bane's coolness
Bane rarely takes a what-was-that kind of shot. He gets to his spots on the floor and takes the shot he wants. Bane's ability to play within himself and the Grizzlies' offense was how he poured in 19 first-half points. He finished with 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting. His plus-minus of plus-13 was best among starters.
Steven Adams' playmaking
When describing Adams, most people point out his ability to do the dirty work. He's one of the NBA's best rebounders, screeners and defensive communicators. Adams is cleaning his game up more this season with strong playmaking ability. He returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in his first game out of health-and-safety protocols. Adams' 10 rebounds was expected, but he also added six assists.
The Grizzlies are getting Adams the ball in the free-throw-line area, where players are cutting and being rewarded with nice bounce passes. Adams entered Monday averaging a career-high three assists. He had never averaged more than 2.3 assists before this season.
"I want to say he's the glue to our offense," Bane said. "Obviously we got star power with Ja, Jaren and those guys, but guys like me, Ziaire (Williams) and John Konchar off the bench really benefit from him being on the floor with his ability to pass."
The Grizzlies will go on the road to take on the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are 2-5 in their last seven games but have one of the leagues top MVP candidates, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Wednesday will be the first of four consecutive Grizzlies road games.
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This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis Grizzlies beat Chicago Bulls on MLK Day 2022