Newcomers settling in for Grizzlies, Bulls
The Chicago Bulls will try to avoid a winless homestand when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
Chicago has lost the first two games of its three-game home set and has dropped 18 of its past 21 overall. The Bulls are on pace to lose 63 games, which would be the third-worst total in franchise history.
The outlook is not quite as bleak for Memphis, although the Grizzlies have plunged into second-to-last place in the Western Conference ahead of only the Phoenix Suns. The Grizzlies will be playing on short rest after losing 108-107 to the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.
Avery Bradley scored a career-high 33 points in the defeat. Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and 10 rebounds in his first action since the Grizzlies acquired him and two others last week from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Marc Gasol.
Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff likes what he has seen from Valanciunas so far.
"We'll have to be patient with our expectations ... but the things that you can tell: intellect, the willingness to compete and an unselfish nature," Bickerstaff said. "(Those are) things we continue to preach to this group."
The Wednesday game will be the first meeting of the season between the clubs. The Bulls went 2-0 against the Grizzlies last season, with both wins coming by single digits.
This time around, Joakim Noah is a reserve big man for the Grizzlies. Noah started his career in Chicago, where he remains a fan favorite and is likely to receive a loud ovation whenever he enters the game on his old home court.
The 33-year-old veteran has played against Bulls only two other times in his career.
Otto Porter Jr. will make his fourth start since the Bulls acquired him from the Washington Wizards last week in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker. Porter has averaged 17.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his first three contests with Chicago, and he has drained 8 of 14 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (57.1 percent).
Teammates are impressed.
"He doesn't even really know any of the plays," Bulls guard Zach LaVine said in comments published by the Chicago Tribune. "He's been doing great. We put him in pick-and-roll, and he took over part of the game (Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks). He was facilitating, making shots.
"He's a lot more than just a catch-and-shoot guy. I think his role is going to be a lot bigger than what it was in Washington. He's a lot better than that."
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley did not play Tuesday night against the Spurs because of an illness, and his status was uncertain for the game against the Bulls. Conley is averaging 20.1 points and 6.4 assists in 55 games this season.
Bulls point guard Kris Dunn is questionable to play because of a bruised tailbone. The injury led the third-year player to miss practice Tuesday afternoon.
"He's very sore and stiff," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 13, 2019