Derrick Rose leads Chicago Bulls past Utah Jazz

By Jeff Arnold, The Sports Xchange   |   March 20, 2016 at 1:13 AM
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CHICAGO -- When Taj Gibson took notice of some things he didn't like from his Chicago Bulls teammates, he wasted no time in speaking up.

Considering Gibson's veteran voice and understanding the urgency with which he spoke, his halftime message didn't go unheeded.

Derrick Rose scored 22 points and Nikola Mirotic and Gibson each had 15 as the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz 92-85 on Saturday night at the United Center.

Gibson also had 10 rebounds, but it may have been the way he took charge in the locker room with the Bulls leading by 10 points that may have had the biggest impact on the final outcome.

"I said what I said and we responded well," said Gibson, who declined to specify exactly what he told his teammates.

Whatever he said stuck.

Four players scored in double figures for Chicago (35-33), which never trailed. The Bulls won for the third time in four games and remained in the hunt for the final playoff spot in a very crowded Eastern Conference race.

Guard Jimmy Butler rounded out the Bulls' balanced scoring attack with 13 points and six rebounds.

As well-rounded as the Bulls were offensively, though, Chicago's defense stood out as the Bulls held the Jazz (33-36) to 40.7 percent shooting and in the process, snapped Utah's four-game winning streak.

"Right from the beginning, we were getting to the ball," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We were good at getting past screens, the help was there."

Derrick Favors led the Jazz (33-36) with a game-high 24 points and Shelvin Mack finished with 15 points. Rodney Hood scored 14 points for the Jazz. But the Bulls defense, sparked by fill-in starting center Cristiano Felicio, held Utah's offense in check and held off the Jazz, who dwindled a one-time 15-point Chicago lead down to six points in the final minute.

"We couldn't make any shots offensively," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "(Favors) was very good around the basket. Overall, we did not do a good job finishing at the rim. It was a tough night for us shooting the ball."

The Bulls hit their first seven shots from the field and led 50-40 at halftime, ending the half shooting 52.4 percent.

Rose, who along with Butler remains on limited minutes to avoid aggravating recent injuries, fueled the first-half offensive effort with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor.

Rose, who left before speaking to reporters, continued to be effective offensively in the second half and finished the win by connecting on 10 of 15 from the field. Rose also had four assists and three rebounds.

"I thought he played a very complete game," Hoiberg said of Rose. "He took some great shots, he hit a big one for us late when our offense got slow in the fourth quarter. He stepped up for us."

Utah failed to keep pace after the Bulls' hot shooting start. The Jazz, who trailed by as many as 15 points, cut the deficit to six in the third quarter before the Bulls again extended their lead to double figures.

"We got some good looks, we didn't knock them down," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "We just struggled."

The Jazz made one final surge and drew to within 91-85 with less than 20 seconds remaining before Butler split two free throws to cap the win as the Bulls remained in contention for a playoff berth.

As tight as things are though for the final playoff spot, Gibson said the Bulls can't afford to start keeping track of what other teams are doing.

"We're just focused on getting wins," Gibson said. "You get a nice little win streak here and there, you're probably going to probably end up with the six seed. You can't just focus on everybody else, you've just got to focus on yourself."

NOTES: Bulls G E'Twaun Moore is expected be sidelined for a week after sustaining a hamstring injury March 17 against Brooklyn. ... C Pau Gasol missed his fourth straight game because of swelling in his right knee. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg expects Gasol to return to practice on a limited basis on Sunday and will re-evaluate when the All-Star could return after that. ... Jazz F Gordon Hayward returned to the starting line-up after missing the last two games because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. ... The Jazz, who are fighting for a Western Conference playoff spot, played the first of five straight road games and won't play at home again until March 28 against the Lakers. "It's close enough to the end," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We need to be competitive -- more than competitive -- we need to win some of these games to have the opportunity to keep playing."

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