In the second game of their circus road trip, the Chicago Bulls managed to come out on top versus the Utah Jazz 85-77. Although the Bulls shot a mere 36.7% from the field and got out-rebounded by the Jazz 48-46, the Bulls’ defense surrendered only 51 points in the final three quarters, allowing them to earn their eighth victory of the season.
The game started out very competitive, with nine lead changes in the first nine minutes despite the Bulls leading 14-7 at one point early on. It seemed like somewhat of a minor miracle that Chicago was able to hang around, however, because the offense for Chicago looked perplexing to say the least. Robin Lopez took eight shots in the first quarter (though he did make four), while Dwyane Wade failed to register a single field goal. Though Jimmy Butler had nine points, he appeared far too content to settle for jumpers with the hope of getting fouled in the process of shooting. The Bulls also failed to hit a single three until the final two minutes; whereas, the Jazz went 3-8 from beyond the arc for the period. As a result, the Bulls found themselves down 26-25 at the end of the quarter.
Hoiberg mentioned during the break interview that the offense needed to play with better flow, and the Bulls did a much better job of doing so to start the second. Wade registered his first two field goals of the game, and Bobby Portis chipped in an efficient five points of his own. Unfortunately, the Bulls uncharacteristically kept getting beat on the glass, and to make matters worse, the Jazz wound up in the bonus with over eight and a half minutes left in the half (although the Bulls got there themselves with about six minutes to go).
But just as quickly as the offensive flow came, it vanished. The Bulls went six and a half minutes without a field goal before an Isaiah Canaan floater put the team up 38-37 with a little over three minutes left in the second quarter. That’s mainly because Utah’s bigs—Rudy Gobert in particular—gave Chicago’s offense fits. Fortunately, the Jazz weren’t having much offensive success themselves due to committing nine first half turnovers. Even so, the Bulls managed to only score an unfathomable TWO POINTS through the final eight and a half minutes of the second period, with the exception of a ridiculous bailout three by Butler to end the half. Despite the putrid offensive display, the Bulls entered the break down only 43-41.
Jimmy Butler cashes the buzzer-beating 3 to end the first half!#BullsNation— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 18, 2016
Thankfully, both teams engaged in a little role-reversal to begin the second half. The Bulls ripped off a Jerian Grant-powered 8-0 run in the first three and a half minutes, while the Jazz missed their opening six shots. Soon after his quick five points to open the quarter, Grant had a terrific Steve Nash-esque assist to Robin Lopez:
Overall, the Bulls definitely got their groove back in the third quarter, but perhaps even more impressive was their defense continued to frustrate the Jazz immensely. Jimmy Butler absolutely bottled up Gordon Hayward while Rodney Hood bricked nearly every shot he took, and Utah subsequently concluded the period with a mere 15 points (their lowest total for a quarter all season). As a result, the Bulls entered the fourth quarter with a 66-58 lead.
The Bulls kept their foot on the gas offensively to open the final period, going on a 9-0 run over the first two minutes to push their lead to seventeen points. However, over the next four and a half minutes, the Jazz countered with a 12-3 run to cut the lead to single digits. But even when the Jazz began to threaten down the stretch, Wade and Butler were simply too clutch:
Butler clutch pic.twitter.com/xlRM6rw71n— ⓂarcusD2.0 (@_MarcusD2_) November 18, 2016
The final score ended up 85-77 in favor of the Bulls. Even though Butler, Grant, Lopez, and Wade combined to shoot an abhorrent 21-62 from the field; the Bulls simply played too well on defense in the second half to lose this game. Jimmy Butler in particular was fantastic, holding Gordon Hayward to eight points on 3-15 shooting from the field. Though Gobert led the Jazz in scoring with 16 points, Robin Lopez did a tremendous job of protecting the rim throughout the contest, particularly in the second half. Lopez also snagged seven offensive rebounds (12 total) despite the Jazz getting a rare victory over the Bulls in the battle on the boards.
Though it was an ugly game for various stretches, the Bulls still did a lot of good things in this game that allowed them to grit out a tough victory on the road. Chicago are now winners of four of their last five games, and only need one more victory over their next four contests to achieve the goal of a .500 road trip. Their next game could be a challenge, however, as they will take on a juggernaut in the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Saturday night.