Believe it or not, winning is back on the menu for the Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Utah Jazz
Chicago Bulls v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

Visiting Utah for the second game of their Western Conference road trip, the Chicago Bulls managed to keep the ball rolling and continue building positive momentum. Much like the Bulls, the Jazz entered last night's game completely battered by injuries, so Chicago did well to capitalize and steal away a closely-contested 119-117 victory. It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done, and that's all that matters in the end.

DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Bulls by dropping 29 points and 7 rebounds, while Coby White chipped in 25 points and Nikola Vucevic contributed an uncharacteristically efficient 23 points and 12 rebounds. As the Bulls choked away a fourth quarter lead, DeMar once again put the team on his back to score Chicago's final 7 points to secure the narrow win.

Coby and DeMar each played 38 minutes or more as they continue to carry the highest workloads of any player in the NBA. It remains to be seen if this is a sustainable strategy in the long run, but I can't say I'm surprised to see tensions already reaching a boiling point in game. Things got messy last night when a squabble between Torrey Craig and Collin Sexton became a full on altercation when Utah forward John Collins got physical with Bulls assistant coach Chris Fleming.

Although the fiery exchange resulted in the Bulls receiving a technical foul and Utah shooting a game-tying free throw with only 9 seconds remaining on the clock, it wouldn't be enough for the Jazz. DeRozan would seal the game as the Bulls now advance to 30-32, just two games removed from a .500 winning percentage.

A favorable schedule might give the Bulls a chance to save their 2023-24 season if they finish strong.

Looking ahead on the schedule, the Bulls have 20 games left to continue climbing the standings. That's not a lot time to make up significant ground, but the schedule may yet yield favorable results for Chicago. That's because 8 of these 20 games will be against teams with worse records than the 9th-seeded Bulls, while only 12 of them will be against teams with better records.

Even then, not all of the games against teams with better records are created equal. Of the 12 "tough" games left to be played, only 4 of them are against the NBA's current 8 best teams. With that in mind, the Bulls should hopefully be able to remain competitive all the way through to the end of the season.

Chicago has the 8th-easiest remaining strength of schedule, which means they may be able to make up ground. A few of their Eastern Conference rivals are not so lucky, as the Pacers, 76ers, Cavaliers, and Hawks all rank in the top half of the league's most difficult remaining strength of schedule.

This is crucially important for Chicago, as the Pacers and 76ers are the teams directly ahead of the Bulls in the standings. Even if the Bulls win out in the play-in tournament, a first-round matchup against the Celtics or Bucks would most likely result in an early exit from the postseason. A matchup against teams like the Cavaliers, Magic, or Knicks, on the other hand, is far from a death sentence.

As things currently stand, the Bulls are only 4.5 games back from the Pacers, 5 games back from the 76ers, and 5.5 games back from the Heat. It might be a tall ask, but this team can still reasonably leap three spots to secure the 6th seed and avoid the play-in tournament if they finish strong. Winners in four of their last six games against some tough competition, the Bulls might just be building enough positive momentum to salvage their season.

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