CHICAGO Drew Gooden tied a season high with 24 points, Ben Gordon added 19, and the Chicago Bulls beat Utah 108-96 on Tuesday night to snap the Jazz's five-game winning streak.
Gordon hit several key 3-pointers, including two late in the third and one midway through the fourth after the Jazz pulled within 10. That was enough to offset strong performances by Utah's Mehmet Okur (22 points, 18 rebounds) and Deron Williams (20 points, 10 assists) and give the Bulls a much needed break from another round of drama.
The latest involved Chris Duhon, who missed a shootaround at Detroit on Sunday and made some comments that didn't sit well with management. A win over the Northwest division leaders had the Bulls feeling a little better.
The Bulls built a 14-point lead in the second quarter, were ahead 55-42 at halftime, and led by as much as 17 in the third quarter. Although the Jazz tried to make things interesting, Chicago hung on.
The Bulls were leading by 11 late in the third when Utah's Matt Harpring had a basket negated by an offensive foul. Gordon then hit two 3-pointers in the final minute as the Bulls took an 86-71 lead into the fourth. He struck again after Utah pulled within 10 on Ronnie Brewer's free throw, burying a 3-pointer that made it 103-90 with just under five minutes remaining.
Utah's Andrei Kirilenko started and scored 12 points after missing three games with a sprained right hip following a hard foul by Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki on March 3. But the good vibe surrounding his return quickly evaporated.
The Jazz beat Minnesota, Phoenix and Denver by an average of 21 points without Kirilenko. They held a 4 1/2-game lead over the Nuggets in the Northwest division and trailed the Lakers by just 2 1/2 for the Western Conference's best record entering Tuesday's game.
But they were off target early on and never really recovered.
Utah hit just six of 17 shots in the second quarter and went the first 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal as Chicago's lead grew from 25-23 to 42-27. Tyrus Thomas punctuated the run with a driving two-handed dunk over Okur, who got called for a technical. Gordon then hit the technical free throw to make it a 15-point game.
Notes: Kirilenko said he didn't think Nowitzki, who got a one-game suspension, meant to hurt him. "I think Dirk was out of balance," Kirilenko said. ... The Jazz were 28-3 at home and just 14-19 on the road entering Tuesday's game, and coach Jerry Sloan has an explanation for the disparity. "I think it's the altitude," he said. "We're at 4,200 feet." He laughed. "Does that sound like a good reason? If it is, I'll use it." ... The Bulls' Thabo Sefolosha scored 11 points after missing six games with a strained left groin.