Utah Jazz: Carlos Boozer gets boos and the last laugh in 93-89 Bulls win over Jazz
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Carlos Boozer gave Utah Jazz fans even more reason to despise him Friday night.
The man who overshadowed Paul Millsap at the beginning of his NBA career cast a dark cloud over his old team and stole the spotlight from Al Jefferson at EnergySolutions Arena, scoring 11 of his team-high 19 points in the final five minutes.
Boozer's big finish helped him lift the Bulls to a 93-89 win and get some revenge against his old fans who were booing him all night.
"It was a good win for us," said Boozer, whose Bulls were blasted 128-96 in Denver on Thursday. "We came in today focused and had a great start to the game. They are a good team. they fought all the way back. Al and Sap had it rolling. At the end of the game, we did a good job finishing."
The Jazz's late-game collapse spoiled a sensational showing by Jefferson, who had a season-best 32 points on a season-high field goals (15 of 22). His shooting performance included a sizzling streak of 12 straight Utah points in the second half, which gave the Jazz a four-point lead after trailing by as many as 13 in the first half.
"With two guys on me and guys fronting me and all this stuff, we've just got to take advantage of that," said Jefferson, who didn't score in the final eight-and-a-half minutes. "I think we did, for the most part, we had a chance to win. Things just didn't go our way in the end."
Jefferson's huge night went for naught, though, thanks to Boozer, who hit a bucket with five minutes remaining to cut the Jazz's lead to 81-79. Shortly after that, the Bulls forward got a technical foul, but Randy Foye missed the freebie and the Boozer burst continued.
"I'm not sure he's the guy that beat us," Millsap said. "They've got a whole team, and they did a good job. Down the stretch, he hits a couple shots, got fouled, but that's not what lost us the game."
It certainly contributed, though.
Millsap hit a jumper to give Utah an 83-79 lead, but Boozer went on a personal 7-0 run to put the Bulls ahead 86-83 with 59.9 seconds remaining. Boozer answered another Millsap bucket with two clutch foul shots wtih 27.0 to go.
Utah had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Millsap's 3-point shot from the corner was badly missed.
Millsap finished with 21 points, but the Jazz only scored 39 points in the second half against the feisty Bulls.
Utah fell to 28-23 and will travel to Sacramento for perhaps the final time to take on the Kings tonight.
Nate Robinson scored 18 points and dished out nine assists, and Joakim Noah (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Luol Deng (15 points and 10 boards) both hit key free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the deal for Chicago.
It was the Bulls' fourth straight win over the Jazz. It also wrapped up a six-game road trip for the Bulls, who went 3-3 away from the United Center.
Boozer was plagued by foul problems and serenaded with a chorus of boos from disgruntled Jazz fans every time he touched the ball, but he had the last laugh after going on a scoring rampage in the final five minutes. His 11-point streak included 5 of 6 free throws and a technical foul.
It was Boozer's second visit since he left for Chicago in 2010 after spending six successful-but-injury-plagued seasons with the Jazz.
The timing of this Bulls-Jazz game was quite the coincidence. It came almost exactly two years to the day after the infamous Utah-Chicago matchup Feb. 9, 2011. It proved to be the final game of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan's coaching career.
Citing a lack of energy, Sloan resigned the next day along with longtime assistant Phil Johnson.
Likewise, that was the beginning of the Jazz's Tyrone Corbin era.
As he's done all season, Sloan attended Friday's game, sitting 13 rows behind the Jazz bench.
With or without the legendary coach in attendance, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau believes the Jazz and Sloan are synonymous.
"When you think of the Jazz, you just think of how hard they play and how unselfish, smart and tough (they are), and what they stand for. They've been a gold standard in the league for such a long time," said Thibodeau, who coached his Bulls teams to wins two years ago and Friday.
"Obviously it started with Frank Layden, and you can't say enough about what Jerry Sloan did as a coach," Thibodeau added. "He stood for all the good things about this league — play hard, smart, tough, unselfish — a great leader, great coach, great person. You can't say enough about him."
Corbin fell to 72-73 since taking over for Sloan — a more impressive record when you factor in the 8-20 record his first team struggled to after losing its top two coaches and then trading away its best player, Deron Williams.
Corbin's goal is put his own imprint on the blueprints laid out by his predecessor.
"We're trying to create an identity of who this team is, and the organization, the principles and the character and (what) this organization has always (had) is still going," Corbin said. "We don't want to lose sight of that. We want to play according, because we want to make sure that the Utah/Salt Lake people that support us are proud of who we are, and that's what we're trying to work to be."
NOTES: Jazz sixth man Gordon Hayward (sprained right shoulder) missed his seventh straight game but continues to improve. He still doesn't have a timetable for returning. ... Utah backup Earl Watson is expected to play tonight at Sacramento after missing the past four games with bone bruising and a stress fracture in his lower right leg, Corbin said. "I think they kind of took that option out of my hands a long time ago, because they figure I'll play hurt no matter what. It's their option," Watson said. "I'll be ready if needed." ... Utah has three more ESPN games: March 13 at Oklahoma City; March 18 vs. Knicks; and April 17 at Memphis.
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