CHICAGO — There would be no repeat of Thursday’s fourth-quarter meltdown that happened in Atlanta.
From the opening tip, the Utah Jazz dominated the Chicago Bulls on their home floor on Saturday to win 114-83.
By halftime, the Jazz were up 70-36, which was the largest halftime lead on the road in franchise history, per Stats By STATS.
The 34-point deficit also tied Chicago’s second-largest deficit at the half as Utah concluded their four-game road trip with a 3-1 record.
“The biggest thing for us right now in what we’ve been talking about is playing well,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “The wins obviously are important but you’re trying, even though it’s the end of the year, you still want to try and get better so hopefully part of getting better is being able to win on the road, whether there’s fatigue at the end of a road trip or you’re coming off a loss or whatever the circumstances are, that’s how we want to approach it.
“To stay energized, try to stay healthy and be playing your best basketball at the right time of the year, and for us that means defending and we’re kind of paying attention to the details that make us who we are.”
Chicago entered the contest riding a two-game winning streak but was ranked second to last in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bulls were playing without Wendell Carter Jr. (left thumb surgery), Chandler Hutchison (right toe injury) and Zach LaVine (right thigh contusion and right patellar tendonitis) as they fell behind by as many as 38 points.
Prior to the tipoff, Bulls coach Jim Boylen warned his squad that the Jazz would be a stiff test as they have now won six of their last seven games before heading back to Vivint Arena to host Phoenix on Monday.
“To me, Utah plays like a team from the '90s,” Boylen said. “A dominant center, they execute in the high court, they’re not a high pace team, they have physical defenders and they play the right way. The ball moves and they’ve got some really tough, physical guys that will put a whack in you.”
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert led the squad with 21 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in just 26 minutes. Donovan Mitchell ended with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists on 5-for-8 shooting in 26 minutes.
The Jazz outscored Chicago 62-50 with points in the paint and shot 48.9 percent as a team while holding the Bulls to 36.3 percent shooting. Chicago connected on just 12.5 percent of its 3-point attempts.
“It was just resiliency. That (Atlanta) loss was kind of a slap in the face, a little wake-up call. Even though it was a back-to-back, we can say whatever we want but I think our urgency was great tonight,” Gobert said. “We started the game the right way defensively and it just carries on, on the offense. The most important thing for us is to not let our offense impact our defense.”
Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors combined for 26 points while Jae Crowder added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead the charge off the bench.5 comments on this story
Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 6-for-20 shooting. In the last five seasons, Markkanen is just the second Chicago player to register 20 or more double-doubles.
Utah swept the season series 2-0 and will play its next four consecutive games at Vivint Arena. Gobert is ready to get back to Salt Lake City.
“First of all, I’m glad this road trip is over. It was the last one,” Gobert said. “I’m glad, besides Dante (Exum), everyone is healthy so it’s a good thing. Now, we can get home, take care of ourselves and take care of home court.”