Jonas Valančiūnas leads Grizzlies over Bulls in 101-90 victory


Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 12, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It was the second night of back to back sets for both the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, and it definitely looked that way with turnovers the story in a low scoring first-half.

But when it mattered the most, the Grizzlies returned to their principles and locked in on defense, holding the Chicago Bulls to 16 points in the fourth quarter to come away victorious 101-90.

Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said he wanted his team to return to their defensive roots after the last two games where they gave up over 130 points in losses to the Knicks and Pacers.

“Yeah, I thought our defensive was pretty good for the majority of the game,” Jenkins said. “We were able to get enough stops. This was the challenge I hit the guys with prior to the game.”

The Grizzlies struggled offensively especially from beyond the arc. Memphis shot 9-28, or 32-percent, from behind the three-point line. Additionally, the team collectively shot 47 percent from the field.

Needing a spark, the Grizzlies turned to their big man and Jonas Valančiūnas delivered.

Valančiūnas finished the night leading all scorers with 26 points and 14 rebounds for his 15th straight double double and his 39th double-double of the season, tying his single-season career high. Valančiūnas had 39 double-doubles (in 70 games) last season, according to the Grizzlies PR.

Valančiūnas deflected praise of his own personal performance and gave all credit to his teammates.

“You know, it’s not an individual sport. So I would not be doing it without my teammates, first of all. Second thing, I’m playing with a high energy, putting a lot of work in, trying to go for every rebound, trying to go for every putback, stuff like that. That pays off,” Valančiūnas said.

Following the big man, Dillon Brooks had 17 points and Ja Morant had 13 points and 10 assists. The Grizzlies also getting 26 points from their bench to help beat the Bulls.

On the Chicago side, Zach LaVine scored 21 points, but the Bulls lost their third straight. Memphian and former Mitchell High star Thaddeus Young had 20.

The Grizzlies will play host to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, April 14. at 7 p.m.

The Grizzlies and Bulls will see each other again in Chicago this coming Friday at the United Center.

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