The Chicago Bulls overcame a 32-point, 13 rebound explosion from Al Jefferson as they held off the Utah Jazz on the road, 93-89. Carlos Boozer scored 17 points — 9 in the fourth quarter — in just his second game in Utah since leaving the Jazz to sign with the Bulls. The win came just a night after the Bulls were blown out on national TV against the Denver Nuggets and snapped a mini two-game losing streak.
After the Nuggets used the third quarter to turn a close game into a blowout the previous night, the Bulls nearly blew the game with an 11-point third quarter in Salt Lake City. They led 58-50 at halftime, but the game was tied after three quarters. The Bulls rode Nate Robinson’s hot hand in the first half, but when he cooled off in the second, the offense quickly cratered. They tallied 31 points in the first quarter alone and just 35 total in the second half, but Boozer’s fourth-quarter outburst helped avert a near-disaster after Jefferson started going off and gave the Jazz the lead.
Taj Gibson stepped up, scoring 14 points to go with 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, and shooting 7/9 from the field. Joakim Noah, although clearly not 100 percent at this point, still managed a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Luol Deng didn’t shoot well, but still slapped up a 15/10/4 and Robinson finished with 18 points.
The major takeaway is that a win’s a win. Utah wasn’t really at full strength, but they’re really good at home and they’re still on track to make the playoffs in the uber-competitive West. Was it pretty? Of course not. But any win against a good team is cause for moderate celebration. Plus, we got to see Good Carlos Boozer again, so that was nice.
The only real causes for concern were Noah’s continued non-health and no-shows by the young bench guys, Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague. Teague only played two minutes, so that’s not really his fault, but it was disappointing to see Butler do essentially nothing in his 13 minutes of floor time. But odds are he’ll be better with a day of rest before Monday’s tilt against the Spurs.