CHICAGO -- Vince Carter first played against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 23, 1999.
Almost 18 years later, Carter is still going strong. The 40-year-old guard looks to follow up on one of his best performances of the season when the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Bulls on Wednesday night.
"I want to try to make the game easier for other guys on the floor," Carter told the Memphis Commercial Appeal after a 24-point effort in which he shot 6 for 6 from beyond the arc Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks. "Whether it's spread the floor, even if I wasn't hitting shots, just be effective. Shoot the shot that's open. Make the right play, make the right pass, swing the ball, try to find open guys. It's something I've done all year."
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Memphis (37-30) is trying to establish a hot streak after a miserable week and a half to open the month. A win would give the Grizzlies back-to-back victories on the heels of a five-game skid that included four double-digit losses.
Chicago (32-35) also goes for back-to-back victories after holding on for a 115-109 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bulls, who are in danger of missing the postseason for the second consecutive season under coach Fred Hoiberg.
An up-and-down season has prompted Hoiberg to try a slew of starting lineups and playing rotations in an effort to find a spark. The tinkering has not always worked, but it paid dividends earlier this week as reserve forward Nikola Mirotic returned from a three-game benching to score a team-high 24 points against Charlotte.
Before the game, veteran guard Dwyane Wade pulled Mirotic aside for a pep talk.
"Keep them confident," Wade told the Chicago Tribune about his chat with Mirotic. "As a leader, you have different ways you have to do things. This is time for the pat on the back."
Wednesday's game marks the second and final meeting of the regular season. Chicago posted a 108-104 victory in the first matchup Jan. 15 in Memphis.
Much changed for the Bulls since. The team's top scorer in its first meeting against the Grizzlies was Doug McDermott with 31 points. Taj Gibson added 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Both players later were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, paving the way for players such as Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine to earn extended playing time.
Memphis' roster remained much more stable as it looks to lock up a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Mike Conley led the team with 28 points and eight assists in the first meeting. Marc Gasol made an impact down low with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Gasol (20.1 points per game) and Conley (19.9 points) lead the Grizzlies in scoring this season. Meanwhile, Carter earned a more prominent role in place of Chandler Parsons, who might need season-ending surgery on his knee.
Chicago is led in scoring by Jimmy Butler, who averages 23.4 points. Wade is next with an average of 18.8 points.