It looked like the Bulls were ready to take 10 steps back against the Jazz after taking two steps forward against two elite teams from the East.
This has been the story of their season, so this should come as no shock.
But late-game sparks from Patrick Williams and Coby White were enough for the Bulls to grab the lead and secure a 126–118 win against the Jazz.
Coach Billy Donovan said, “I love that thing about Kobe when something negative happens where he knows he can be better, he always responds.” “I commend him for not having a great start and sticking with it. Same goes for Patrick. This is what you need to do.
After two impressive performances by Williams, including a season-high 22 points against the Nets on Wednesday, he was held to one point by Utah in the first 39 minutes.
But with nine minutes left and the Bulls trailing by four, he and White, who had been scoreless up to that point, exchanged buckets. They combined for 11 points in less than two minutes to top the Bulls and force a Jazz timeout.
After the timeout, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan went to work. They combined for 27 points in the fourth quarter.
LaVine had some residual three-point magic from his 41-point game against the 76ers on Saturday night. He had 11 points in the first quarter and 17 in the half, going 2-for-4 from three-point range. He opened the third quarter with another three and had 36 points for the game. He shot 6-for-12 from long range. Donovan said he’d like to see LaVine hit 10 to 15 threes per game.
LaVine’s response was brief: “I’ll try if I can.”
Derojan had 35 and Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“We’re finding a rhythm, sharing the ball and understanding our spots,” DeRozan said. “But mainly understanding when we stop, get out in transition to get easy possessions and easy shots. We’ve done that a lot of times. It’s been good for us.
The Bulls and Jazz appeared sluggish in the beginning. The first of the two blood draws took about two minutes.
After Vucevic hit a five-foot hook shot, the game was on, sort of. For most of the first quarter, only Vucevic and LaVine were able to muster much offense.
Sloppy passing was compounded by poor shot selection in the first half. Let’s just chalk the slow start to the after effects of being on the back end of back-to-back.
The Jazz defeated the Bulls 68–40 in the paint behind an impressive performance from former Bull Lauri Markkanen, who finished with 28 points. The Bulls also struggled to stop Jordan Clarkson, who had 18 points. Late in the third quarter, Markkanen put Vucevic on a poster, finished with a force to the rim and capped it off with a stare.
The Bulls are 8-3 since giving up 150 points to the Timberwolves last month and could be 10-1 if NBA officials hadn’t called late in each of their losses to the Cavaliers last week. But let’s not dig into the past.
LaVine did not acknowledge the loss to Minnesota as a turning point. Instead, he mentioned some advice from his father.
“Sometimes all you need is a little [a butt-kicking] To put you back in the right place,” Lavin said.
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