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Chicago Bulls

Bulls get quick start, hang on to beat Grizzlies

Bulls guard Zach LaVine is defended by Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks during the first half Wednesday at the United Center.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine is defended by Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks during the first half Wednesday at the United Center.

CHICAGO – Zach LaVine scored
25 points, Wendell Carter Jr. had
16 points and 13 rebounds, and the Bulls hung on for a 106-99 victory over the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night after nearly losing a 22-point lead.

Lauri Markkanen added 15 points as the Bulls won their second straight.

Jonas Valanciunas had 32 points and 13 rebounds, and Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jae Crowder each scored
15 points for Memphis, which has dropped eight of nine.

Rookie Ja Morant, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer at 18.6 points a game, missed his third straight game with back soreness.

The Bulls scored the game’s first seven points and had a 13-2 lead after four minutes. Scoring consistently was a problem for Memphis throughout the first half.

The Bulls had their biggest lead at 50-28 with 3½ minutes to go in the second quarter before the Grizzlies scored the final seven points of the quarter to make it 50-35 at halftime.

LaVine opened the scoring in the third quarter to make it 52-35, but Memphis then ran off eight straight to pull within 52-43.

A few minutes later, the Bulls lead was down to 61-55 after a five-point possession. De’Anthony Melton was fouled on a clear-path call and sank both free throws. After the Grizzlies inbounded the ball, Crowder hit a 3-pointer.

That was as close as Memphis would get in the third. The Bulls closed the quarter with a 17-5 run for a 78-64 edge heading into the fourth.

The Bulls were leading, 82-70, with 8½ minutes remaining before the Grizzlies went on a 17-6 run to make it 88-87 with 4½ minutes to play.

LaVine, however, answered with five quick points and Kris Dunn hit a 3-pointer with 3 minutes left to get the lead back to 96-87. The Bulls hung on from there.

Bulls notes: The team still is awaiting the results of a follow-up MRI on forward Otto Porter (left foot bone bruise) to determine how much longer he’ll be sidelined. Porter hasn’t played since Nov. 6 at Atlanta. … Forward Chandler Hutchison (right shoulder sprain) missed his third straight game.

Grizzlies notes: Valanciunas returned after missing the previous two games with flu-like symptoms. Before the game, coach Taylor Jenkins thought he might have to limit his center’s minutes, but he played
29 minutes, more than his season average of 24.6. … Rookie forward Brandon Clarke (left oblique soreness) and forward Kyle Anderson (right heel soreness) also sat out.

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