The streak continues. After losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, 102-86, Monday afternoon at FedEx Forum, the Chicago Bulls fell to 0-5 on the road all-time without their star point guard, Derrick Rose, who has missed two of the team's last 4 games because of a sprained left big toe. The Bulls dropped to an Eastern Conference-best 12-3, and the loss snapped their five-game winning streak.
The Bulls had four players, led by Luol Deng's 20 points in almost 40 minutes of action. C.J. Watson returned from a nine-game absence -- due to a dislocated left elbow he suffered in the Bulls' 104-64 victory over the Grizzlies (6-6) on New Year's Day -- and scored 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting in 28 minutes. After playing a major fourth-quarter role in Saturday night's 77-64 home win over the Toronto Raptors, forward Taj Gibson posted 16 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Carlos Boozer was active early and added 13 points, 10 of which in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, the Grizzlies wanted revenge and were simply too much. Following yet another ferocious effort Saturday, there were lots of reasons to believe coach Tom Thibodeau's squad would continue their recent run on defense. However, the Grizzlies shot a blistering 54 percent from the field, piled up 23 assists on 47 field-goals and 62 points in the paint, outrebounded the visitors 46-34 and forced 19 turnovers. On Saturday, the Bulls turned the ball over just five times. Lead guards Watson and John Lucas III had four turnovers apiece.
The Grizzlies led 58-38 at halftime, and while the Bulls made brief runs in the third quarter and early in the fourth, the home team was barely challenged. Rudy Gay rebounded from his two-point performance the first time these two clubs faced, pouring in a game-high 24 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Marc Gasol (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Marreese Speights (16 points, 12 rebounds) -- who has filled the void at power forward with Zach Randolph shelved -- each had double-doubles. Joakim Noah struggled to defend both en route to a meager two points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, sitting the final 16 minutes and 41 seconds of the contest.
Still, there was plenty of good news for fans Monday. Rose was among the 20 roster finalists for USA Basketball and was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week from Jan. 9-15, leading to the Bulls to a 5-0 record while dropping 24 points and 9.3 assists.
Next up, the Bulls return to action Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns at the United Center. They play another back-to-back set Friday and Saturday versus the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats, respectively.