In Friday night’s match-up, the Chicago Bulls hosted the visiting Utah Jazz at the United Center. Both teams were coming off of two-straight losses, and only one team could break that streak. The Bulls came away as that team with a 89-88 victory.
Chicago was short-handed yet again as Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, and Taj Gibson all sat out. Derrick Rose also missed the game despite being medically cleared to play.
The game began very close as each team was neck and neck, trading baskets. Carlos Boozer started strong scoring the first points off of a right baseline jumper. His early offensive efficiency allowed the Bulls to keep up with the Jazz early on. Nate Robinson’s playmaking was very beneficial as well; Robinson dished out five assists for the quarter as opposed to him running out the shot clock and rushing things. The team as a whole shot well with 55.6% from the field, but Utah also shot well with 50.0% from the field. This led to the Bulls leading the Jazz 26-23 at the end of the first quarter.
To start the second quarter, head coach Tom Thibodeau brought out Marquis Teague, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Nazr Mohammed. The score remained relatively close throughout the quarter. Mohammed got going a bit on offense with a jumper and some free throws. Marco Belinelli also executed a four-point play off a three from the top of the key and a foul from Utah’s Alec Bucks. Following that, the Bulls progressively began to pull away for their 55;46 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Chicago faced a horrible offensive plague. Both teams had trouble to get going to begin, but Utah got out of the slump first. While the Jazz had found their stride, the Bulls were stagnant on the offensive end, unsure of what plays to make, what shots to take. Luckily for Chicago, Utah never got a hold of the lead despite outscoring the Bulls 17-24. The quarter ended with Chicago just hanging on 72-70.
Unfortunately, the fourth quarter was just as bad, if not worse, as the previous period. A few made free throws and a couple of made field goals were barely enough to give the Bulls a win. Utah’s Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson each had their share of points to help their team cut down the lead. In fact, it was a jump shot by Jefferson that gave the Jazz the two-point lead with 51 seconds to go. This is where Chicago’s rebounding abilities came into play.
The Bulls’ bigs were crashing the boards, staying near the glass until a shot could be made. After Joakim Noah grabbed yet another rebound, he gave it up to Butler. He then dished the ball out to the left baseline where Belinelli was hanging out in the corner. Belinelli got himself set behind the line for the three, swish. Chicago had regained the lead 89-88. It was that three that saved the day and ended the Bulls’ losing streak.
Despite Robinson’s good first half at the point, Belinelli was seen handling the ball as the game neared its ending. He completed the game with 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists to go along with the game-winner. Mohammed got quality minutes off the bench finishing with a near double-double of 9 points and 7 rebounds. A double-double was achieved for Carlos Boozer, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
With a record of 35-27, the Bulls are still behind the Indiana Pacers for the top spot in the Central Division. They will be back on the court this Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM CT against the Los Angeles Lakers.