Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol returned to the lineup against the Jazz on Monday night, and for one half, it looked like the Bulls were well on their way to an easy victory. Instead, Utah came roaring back and even had a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Chicago pulled out a 97-95 victory when Gordon Hayward missed a good look from three that would have won the game.
I only saw the last few minutes of this one, so I missed all the good from the first half and most of the bad from the second half. When the Jazz went up by four late in the game, it looked like the Bulls were about to lose in awful fashion after leading by 21 points at one point. Rose and Jimmy Butler came up with some big plays to close the margin, but the Jazz still had a one-point lead with the ball after a missed Rose floater with 47 seconds left.
Then Trey Burke, who had played really well most of the game, committed a horrendous turnover on pick-and-roll that led to a run-out for Butler. Butler's layup was blocked from behind, but Mike Dunleavy was Johnny On The Spot to corral the loose ball and put in his only basket of the night to give the Bulls a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Rose put up some solid numbers in his return to the lineup after missing four straight games, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 3-of-5 from three in 25 minutes of action. He also went 5-of-8 from the line and added five assists to go along with four turnovers. Most important, he ended the game healthy.
The real star of the night was, surprise, Butler. Butler absolutely throttled Hayward in his individual matchup, scoring a game-high 25 points to just six for Hayward. Butler shot 8-of-16 from the field, while Hayward went just 2-of-11. Butler also went 8-of-9 from the line and had four steals. Just pure domination as the #JimmyButlerMaxContractPush continues.
Gasol was also stellar in his return from the lineup, scoring 23 points on 11-of-20 shooting. The big man added nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, and he had a huge contest on Hayward's last-second three after a defensive breakdown by Tony Snell.
After the great first half that saw the Bulls shoot 58.8 percent overall and 8-of-12 from deep, it seemed like they were going to possibly have a chance to rest some guys on the front end of a back-to-back. But because Chicago couldn't put Utah away (a theme this season), that didn't happen. Butler played a tick under 44 minutes. Gasol, coming off a calf injury, played over 37 minutes. The big minutes for Gasol was partially due to Joakim Noah sitting out part of the game after getting poked in the eye, but still.
The Bulls now have to go to Denver, where they've had some issues in the past (feel like we say this too much about some of these West teams). The Nuggets have won four in a row after a miserable start, so this will likely be a tough game.