Bulls’ last-second win in Memphis could cost them one more draft spot

SHARE Bulls’ last-second win in Memphis could cost them one more draft spot

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Bulls keep showing that they’re not worried about tomorrow.

They’re not concerned with tanking, May lottery balls or, in the case of Justin Holiday, even their own future with the organization.


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It’s not the attitude many Bulls fans want to see from the team, but it’s one they continue to get, as the Bulls outlasted the sinking Grizzlies 111-110 Thursday night.

The victory, combined with the Knicks’ ninth consecutive loss, meant the Bulls (24-44) went from being the eighth-worst team in the league to the ninth, potentially dropping a spot in the draft.

They have rookie Antonio Blakeney to blame — or thank depending on whom you talk to — for the latest win. He got the ball with about five seconds left, had no intention of passing it and was fouled on his three-point attempt with 1.8 seconds left and the Bulls down by one.

Blakeney made two of the three foul shots, and a put-back by Memphis’ JaMychal Green came after the horn.

“I got the ball with, like, five seconds left, and I knew I was going to make an aggressive play,’’ Blakeney said. “I’m a confident player. I work very hard on my game, been working hard my whole life, so when I’m in a game, there’s nothing to be scared of.’’

Coach Fred Hoiberg finished the game with Blakeney, Cam Payne, Cristiano Felicio, Noah Vonleh and Paul Zipser on the floor to see what the youngsters could do.

“That usually is the look [Blakeney] gives when the ball is in his hands,’’ Hoiberg said of the last play. “He kind of tells everybody to get out of his way.’’

Holiday didn’t play again but remained upbeat about what he has accomplished this season.

When asked about how he has handled the demotion from starter to not playing at all so well, Holiday said, “Well, I think it’s the transparency between myself, the coaching staff, management, things like that.’’

The Bulls initially took Holiday and Robin Lopez out of the starting lineup — at least until the NBA stepped in — letting both know that they wanted to get a good look at the young players on the bench. Holiday expects that if he’s with the Bulls next season, he’ll be back as a starter after playing the role of good soldier and stepping aside for the auditions.

But what if he sacrificed playing time, then they traded him in the offseason? It’s a huge leap of faith.

“The way you say that makes complete sense, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that,’’ Holiday said. “I think they know what they have in me. They understand what I’m going to bring to the table every day, and they want to give some other guys chances to play. I think that’s really it. I don’t want to try getting too far into, ‘Well, maybe, what if.’ That’s what I think it is. And who knows?

“Obviously, things change. Things always change in this league, and I understand that. Right now with the situation, again [I’m] happy to do it.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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