CHICAGO — Their lead was melting away when the Utah Jazz gathered in front of their bench midway through the third quarter Wednesday at the United Center.
The Chicago Bulls were in the midst of a 9-0 run and were mounting what appeared to be another second-half comeback effort to beat a team from the Western Conference, much like they did Monday against the Houston Rockets.
The injury-riddled Jazz had other ideas in their impressive 97-77 victory. After listening to coach Quin Snyder’s words of encouragement, they came out of that timeout in the third motivated to complete the upset.
“We just regrouped,” said Utah guard Trey Burke, who scored 17 points in his first game back from a strep throat infection.
“We came to the huddle and coach told us not to let that run discourage us, and we didn’t. We went back out there, regrouped, focused and did what we needed to do.”
Mainly they played great defense. The Jazz (13-23) held the Bulls (25-11) to season lows in points and shooting percentage (33.3 percent), frustrating star guard Derrick Rose into a 3-for-15 performance for seven points.
They also turned that great defense into offense at the other end of the floor.
Forward Derrick Favors (20 points and 11 rebounds) and center Rudy Gobert (11 points and 14 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles and forward Gordon Hayward scored 18 points to lead five Jazz players in double-figures scoring.
The 7-foot-1 Gobert added five blocks and two steals while holding Chicago forward Pau Gasol to 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. It was just one facet of a suffocating defensive effort as a team.
“The most important thing is we did that for 48 minutes,” Gobert said. “I think pretty much every game we do it, but not 48 minutes. We lose our focus and we react, but tonight we did it for 48 minutes.”
Guard Jimmy Butler led four Bulls in double-figure scoring with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while reserve forward Taj Gibson finished with 15 points. The bigger storyline was Chicago’s struggle to score points. The Bulls came into the game averaging 103.1 points a game and had topped the 100-point plateau 24 times.
Utah didn’t let them come close to the century mark. The Jazz held Chicago to 32 points in the first half on 13-of-46 shooting (28.3 percent), and outscored the Bulls 61-45 in the final two frames.
“We could not get into any rhythm,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Defensively we were a step behind. I want to give (Utah) credit, they played well. We were just lethargic. When you start a game out like that, you put yourself in a hole. So, it was disappointing.”
The victory gave Utah a split in the season series, after the Bulls won 97-95 on Nov. 24 in Salt Lake City. Chicago, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, had beaten six consecutive Western Conference opponents, including the impressive victory at home against Houston, one of the West’s top teams.
The Bulls defeated Utah in seven of the previous eight meetings, including season-series sweeps in four of the past five years. This time, they just weren’t good enough to keep that success going.
Utah started pulling away in the third. The Jazz outscored Chicago 27-19 to lead 63-51 starting the fourth, and turned it into a blowout in the final frame, stretching their lead to as much as 26 points.
Favors scored 12 points in the third to help the Jazz’s shooting percentage climb from a dismal 35.7 percent clip in the first half and Utah finished at 47.4 percent for the game. The Jazz 36-32 at the half thanks in part to Chicago’s frigid shooting, including Rose missing all nine of his attempts.
“We just weren’t making any of our shots,” Rose said. “I know I wasn’t making any shots. Shots I normally hit, I wasn’t making any. It’s just part of the game.”
Rose is shooting 39.7 percent for the season, including just 26.2 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“It’s basketball,” he said. “Shots aren’t going to fall. It’s just part of the game. When they start falling, things will change. I’ll continue to shoot my shots.”
NOTES: Chicago played without starting F Mike Dunleavy (sprained right ankle) for the third consecutive game. … Bulls rookie F Doug McDermott missed his 19th game because of a sprained right knee. … A day after waiving injured G/F Patrick Christopher (dislocated kneecap), the Jazz signed G Elliot Williams to a 10-day contract. The 6-foot-5 Williams, 25, is the second guard the Jazz signed from the NBA Development League in the past three days due to injuries. G Alec Burks (left shoulder surgery) is out indefinitely, and G Rodney Hood (left foot inflammation) missed his fourth straight game. … Utah C Enes Kanter missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle. … Bulls F Taj Gibson (right ankle), F Pau Gasol (left chest contusion), G Kirk Hinrich (left hamstring) and G Derrick Rose (right hip contusion) all played against the Jazz.
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