After two disastrous losses, both of which saw the Chicago Bulls blow huge second half leads, they bounced back with a win yesterday. Against the Detroit Pistons, the Bulls started out slow and were down five after the first quarter. But they responded with strong second and third quarters to pull away from their division rivals and win 100-86. Zach LaVine led the way with 18 points while Lauri Markkanen had 16 and Patrick Williams pitching in 10 points and seven rebounds. Chicago was dominant on the boards, out rebounding the Pistons 52-37 and showed some nice ball movement with 26 assists on their 37 made field goals.
Given the prior two games felt like gut punches for the Bulls, it was nice to see them actually close one out properly and get the victory.
The win helped Chicago maintain their standing as a current play-in team in the Eastern Conference. They are currently tied for 9th with the Indiana Pacers and are only a game behind the New York Knicks at 7th. With the 11th place Toronto Raptors 2.5 games behind them, Chicago has some more breathing room than usual in terms of worrying about teams behind them. But we all know that things can change in an instant, especially in the East where there are a logjam of teams fighting for spots 5 through 10 in the standings.
Now it’s time for another matchup against a Western Conference opponent, their fourth in five games. And like their two matchups against the West last week, this won’t be an easy one. Chicago will be hosting the team with the best record in the NBA in the Utah Jazz who sit at 30-11. They are 3-2 in their last five games with wins against the Celtics, Raptors, and Rockets but have dropped games against the Warriors and the Wizards respectively. In their most recent game, they were able to hold off a Toronto team which had six players in double figures, including 27 from Pascal Siakam, to earn a 115-112 win. Donovan Mitchell had 31 points while Joe Ingles pitched in with 19 of his own. Rudy Gobert had a double double of 15 points and 16 rebounds in the victory.
Obviously for the Bulls the key on defense will be stopping Mitchell, who is having a brilliant season. But they have to worry about the likes of Ingles and Mike Conley Jr. as well. Jordan Clarkson is a solid sixth man with Gobert being a tower presence in the lane.
This will be another game against a playoff team where we can measure just how good Chicago is. However, the results against the Nuggets (twice), Suns, 76ers, Heat, and Spurs in the past month showed that the Bulls have a long ways to go.
No Garrett Temple update for the Bulls, but he didn’t play last night.
For Utah, Gobert is listed as questionable with a left hip contusion. Udoka Azubuike has been ruled out with a right ankle sprain.
Game Time: 8PM CT, NBC Sports Chicago
Odds: The Jazz are an eight and half favorite in this game. In terms of the over/under, you can find totals of 227.5 and 228 depending on where you look (all info via the Action Network)