Bulls put together stellar second half in victory against Grizzlies

Thanks to tying a franchise-record low by committing only three turnovers, as well as a third quarter in which they could do no wrong, the Bulls rallied for an important win Sunday.

SHARE Bulls put together stellar second half in victory against Grizzlies
Zach LaVine

Trailing by as much as 23 points in the first half on Sunday, Zach LaVine and the Bulls knew they would need a perfect second half to come back. They got it.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

First came the large speaker, which was carried down the hallway as the hype music blared.

Then came the parade of players — one by one — congregating at the end of the hallway for the pregame dance-off. It was the Grizzlies’ version of the haka, a traditional Maori dance.

The Grizzlies — the NBA’s latest reboot of the ‘‘Bad Boys’’ — seemed more than ready to earn their 50th victory Sunday, with Ja Morant & Co. still chasing the Nuggets for the top seed in the Western Conference.

All that stood in their way was a collection of ‘‘good guys,’’ as Bulls coach Billy Donovan often refers to his players.

By the time the final horn sounded, the Grizzlies still were waiting for that 50th victory.

In one of the biggest turnarounds of the season, the Bulls (38-40) overcame a 23-point deficit and ran the Grizzlies out of the United Center.

All the Bulls did in their 128-107 victory was score 31 points off 18 turnovers. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, were held scoreless in that department, thanks to the Bulls tying a franchise-record low by committing only three turnovers.

Three. Even guard Zach LaVine was impressed by that.

‘‘I didn’t know that,’’ said LaVine, who led the Bulls with 36 points. ‘‘I wish we could do that all the time. If it was that easy, shoot. They’re an aggressive team; they play with their hands a lot. I think we did a good job of just making simple passes.’’

It was a simple explanation for a significant victory.

Had the Bulls lost, any hope they would have had of moving out of the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference would have been in jeopardy with only four regular-season games left.

That message, however, seemed to go unheard at the start of the game. The Grizzlies led by 11 points after the first quarter and by 23 after Luke Kennard made a three-pointer midway through the second.

But while the Bulls have blown their share of 20-plus-point leads this season, they also have shown an ability to fight back. Halftime was critical Sunday.

‘‘You’ve got to find other ways to compete in the game,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I thought the guys did a really good job of regrouping.’’

Indeed, the third quarter might have been one of the most complete 12 minutes the Bulls have put together this season. They capitalized on every Grizzlies mistake, scoring 16 points off eight turnovers, running off 13 fast-break points and shooting 17-for-27 (63%) from the field.

LaVine led the way with 12 points in the quarter, but he got plenty of help from forward Patrick Williams and guard Coby White.

By the time the smoke settled, the Bulls had outscored the Grizzlies 40-16 in the third to take a 93-84 lead into the fourth.

‘‘We played well [in the third], and I give [the players] all the credit,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘You had to embrace adversity. It was a struggle [in the first half]. I like the way we responded.’’

The Bulls then outscored the Grizzlies 35-23 in the fourth to put the game on ice.

‘‘For sure,’’ LaVine said when he was asked whether it was the Bulls’ best second half of the season. ‘‘You’ve got to definitely pat yourself on the back.

‘‘Every game has been like a must-win. These last four, you try and win every one and see where it might place you.’’

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