With many presidential hopefuls beginning their last run to the top at the Iowa Caucus tonight, the Chicago Bulls would fall short yet again of proving that they can ever punch their ticket to the NBA’s version of the primaries, losing in overtime 106-95.
Butler would have 26 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds. Pau and Rose combined for 35.
The Jazz and Bulls, whether fans like it or not, are strikingly similar this season in many ways.
First and foremost, in a very literal sense, there is only a three game buffer between their records at the moment, mostly due to their inconsistent and erratic play in January — the Bulls finishing the month 8-7 while the Jazz finished 5-9.
In addition, both have had to take it to the chin when it comes to injuries. The Jazz, who started the season without second-year guard Dante Exum, lost their defensive weapon Rudy Gobert for 18 games with an MCL sprain and Alec Burks was sidelined 18 as well with a fractured left tibia.
As for the Bulls, the debacle of a season started with a broken orbital bone for Derrick Rose, causing him to wear a mask for the first six weeks of the season not to mention a few games he took off due to body maintenance– add to that the possibly season-ending shoulder injury from Noah and Mirotic’s appendicitis sidelining him for about three weeks, it has been a rough way to start an NBA coaching career for Fred Hoiberg.
However, both teams are currently looking to bounce back from subpar beginnings, starting with a six game home-stand for Utah and a six game road trip the Bulls are enduring as well.
The first quarter showed plenty of positives from both sides of the ball, with the two backcourts pushing the ball down the court and slashing their way to the lane, even leading to a Derrick Rose technical foul early on after a clear hack from Favors was left uncalled and kept him stunned and on the floor with the Jazz running it back.
With the Jazz going into a zone in the driving lanes after quick early buckets from Rose and Butler, the Bulls would take advantage of the Jazz’s sinking defense with Gasol pulling up from 18 feet and knocking them down with plenty of airspace. Gasol gave the Bulls 11 points before the end of the first, including a surprising dribble-drive-to-slam that started from the three point line, on top of Jazz’s Gobert.
Knotted up at 26 a piece in the first, the key for the Bulls in the early going was limiting turnovers– only committing one compared to six for the Jazz.
However, with the Bulls bench incapable of hitting a shot or take advantage of Jazz missteps, the Bulls starters began to try and make it up by pushing the pace in the second half, but instead, it resulted in five turnovers in the first six minutes of the second.
One of the many knocks of the Bulls this season is their inability to capitalize off of opponent turnovers, dead last in the league in that category as we speak. By the end of the first half, Utah would have seven, while the Bulls would struggle to create any kind of advantage or fast break opportunity from those turnovers.
Rodney Hood, struggling early in the game with Butler on him for most of his possessions, finally started to get it going with about 10 minutes left in the second, including a sling shot from Trey Burke from the wing all the way to the top of the key for a silky three. Hood, who has been the team’s leading scorer for four of the past five games, has taken advantage of the increased time he’s seen on the floor due to injuries and has given himself a solid spot in the rotation. He would finish with 19 points, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds.
With a weak-side three from Hayward after an errant pass from Butler on the other end, Hoiberg called a timeout in frustration to try and settle the game down before the Jazz could run away with the lead. That timeout would cap off a 14-0 run for the Jazz.
The Bulls, either from desperation or some miraculous spark of execution, would answer swiftly as the half came to a close, stringing together a 10-0 run and closing out the quarter by limiting the Jazz to seven points in the last six minutes. The Bulls would lead 51-47.
Trey Burke would have 10 points and an assist off the bench. He averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 assists against Chicago last season
A back-and-forth ballet for most of the third quarter, the main highlights included a brief scare from Jimmy Butler after he fell awkwardly and gripped his knee (he would come back in the game right away); a three minute stretch without a field goal for both teams; the Utah Jazz thriving on the wheel cut, and Joe Ingles being called for a personal foul after simultaneously palming, traveling, and hitting Hinrich with a bow at half-court.
While the Bulls packed their barrels in the fourth quarter with a healthy heap of Butler step-backs and Gibson tip-dunks, the Jazz would use a high pick-n-roll with Raul Neto and Rudy Gobert to successfully shoot the Bulls in the foot in the first four minutes.
A career night was in store for Neto, as his would top his high of 13 points after Gobert sucked in the defense enough for him to make a move to the bucket over Rose.
Hayward and Butler, then, would assume their positions at the end of the game as Wild Western heroes, as they would work the offense to their favor and take over for their respective teams — trying to outwit and bewilder each other at every single moment.
Tied at 86 with two and a half to go, Derrick would swoon Neto and Hayward on the perimeter on the 1-2 pick-n-roll, just enough to dump it to Jimmy on the block for the easy two with seconds left on the clock.
After exchanging free throws, Rodney Hood’s fifth foul would force him to fall back on defense to avoid picking up the ejection. Derrick Rose would smell blood in the water, but a maddening switch on defense put Favors on Rose, Hood on Butler, and Hayward on Gasol.
Seeing the mismatch, Rose would dump it to Gasol — but the shot clock was dwindling fast. As Gasol tried to run to the rim on Hayward, it would bounce off his leg and Rose put up a desperation three with no avail.
Tied at 90, Gobert would miss two consecutive free throws with 28 seconds left after being hacked at the rim.
Butler, knowing everyone would commit if he would drive, took that advantage and shot it back to Rose for the wide open three on the wing — and Rose made them pay. All that after Rose went 5-18 the whole way.
But it didn’t end there. After Hayward went to the line with 10 seconds left to go, a missed free throw would be recovered by Utah, leading to a driving layup to tie the game with 4.8 to go.
Heading to OT, clear disappointment was seen across the Bulls bench — they knew they let one go.
And the disappointment didn’t end there, as the Jazz would dominate the overtime period from start to finish. The Jazz would go onto win, leaving the Bulls disappointed and yet again concerned for the future. Hayward would have 27 for the Jazz.