SALT LAKE CITY — A Chicago Bulls-Utah Jazz game that had a script full of subplots well before tipoff and down until the final seconds had another intriguing one added during the postgame interview session. How big it turns out to be remains to be seen.
The night started with a buzz and everybody in Utah wondering how loudly Carlos Boozer would be booed in his first visit to EnergySolutions Arena since signing with the Bulls in the offseason.
(To answer that: LOUDLY.)
The drama then seemed like it might’ve ended after stellar plays by former Jazz players Kyle Korver (clutch 3-pointer) and Ronnie Brewer (game-clinching steal) helped the Bulls escape Utah with a 91-86 win.
But that’s when what might turn out to be the biggest subplot of the night developed.
Coach Jerry Sloan didn’t come out of his office for a postgame interview until about a half-hour after his team lost for the 10th time in 14 games.
The Hall of Famer, who usually talks to reporters about 10 minutes after the final buzzer, had been in a discussion with general manager Kevin O’Connor.
“We just had something we had to discuss,” Sloan said, “and we’ll talk to you all later on about that.” A major part of the discussion, however, was the possibility of a trade in the works.
Jazz brass, though, remained tight-lipped about any details and wouldn’t comment on whether a transaction is on the table.
When asked about the meeting, O’Connor told the Deseret News: “It was an emotional loss. We just kind of visited about a lot of things. That’s about all I’d say.”
O’Connor added that there is “no deal on the table” and said there is “nothing shaking down right now.” Whether or not something develops today or in the near future remains to be seen.
“I don’t think there’s any great need for panic,” Sloan said. “Kevin is always evaluating what we can do or what someone wants to do with another team and that’s part of the business. Every day that’s part of his job.”
Added Sloan: “We’re not looking to trade anybody, do anything. We’re looking to try to make our team hopefully better on the floor (and want) guys (to) accept the responsibility that it takes to be good every day.”
The Jazz canceled practice for this morning, adding an extra element of intrigue.
As for the actual game, well, these two tied-at-the-hip “Jazz” franchises should schedule scrimmages more often.
After Wednesday’s ending, the Utah Jazz would certainly love a quick rematch with the Chicago Jazz.
The hyped return of Boozer, Korver and Brewer couldn’t have had a better-written script for the ending — for Utah East, at least.
Korver nailed a clutch 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining to give his new team a four-point lead. Then Brewer picked off a Deron Williams pass with 7.9 seconds left, preventing the Jazz from taking a potential game-tying shot in the waning moments.
Williams had two other turnovers in the final 1:05 — one a steal-from-behind by Derrick Rose when the Jazz had to take a lead and another a pass that was behind Al Jefferson, who bobbed it into Boozer’s hands with the Jazz still down one with 33.9 seconds left.
It wasn’t the kind of reunion Williams had in mind.
Williams finished with 11 points and 12 assists, but only shot 5-for-13 and had five turnovers.
On this night, he was outplayed by Rose, an MVP candidate who torched the Jazz with 29 points, seven assists and that key steal.
“It was a tough loss,” Williams said. “Put it on me, because at the end of the game I had the ball in my hands. I’ve gotta make the plays to win the game. Two turnovers, not characteristic for me. Put it on me.”
Part of the night went very well for Jazz fans, who booed Boozer — with negative boos, not positive “BOOZ!” — every time he touched the ball.
Boozer, who played in Utah for six seasons that included injury-plagued moments and All-Star-worthy performances, missed 10 of 16 shots, only scored 14 points and grabbed just six rebounds in a quiet night. His former understudy, meanwhile, had the crowd roaring much of the game.
Paul Millsap finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Al Jefferson, Boozer’s replacement, also had a huge night with 26 points and eight boards.
The Jazz, however, were doomed by missing 10 of 21 free throws and falling apart in the final minutes. Brewer sank two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to seal the win for Chicago.
“We felt like we had a chance to push it into overtime,” Millsap said. “But they made a good defensive play, and that was the game.”
Brewer finished with six points and six boards, while Korver had five points.
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