Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Bulls beat Jazz 92-85

Strong team effort leads to wire-to-wire win Saturday night

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By Sam Smith | 3.19.2016 | 9:10 p.m.

The Bulls kept pace is the race for eight Saturday with a 92-85 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose with 22 points and Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson with 15 points each. Gibson also led the Bulls strong defensive effort with 10 rebounds and two blocks. Derrick Favors had 24 for Utah.

The Bulls moved to 35-33 while Utah is 33-36.

The Bulls got a big jumper from Gibson after the Jazz got within 89-83 with and a Mirotic block to avert a collapse.

In the race for eighth in the Eastern Conference, the seventh place Pacers lost while the Pistons and Wizards won. The Bulls remain tied with Detroit and now a half game behind Indiana.

“Just playing defense,” Rose said about the difference.

Pau Gasol remained out with his knee issue and E’Twaun Moore joined him on the sideline with a hamstring strain that will keep him out at least another week. Gasol also said he doesn’t expect his swollen knee to be quite right the rest of the season, though he could play next week. The Bulls started Cristiano Felicio at center, the 14th different Bulls player to start a game this season with 20 different starting lineups. The Bulls had the energy for Saturday night to start, making their first seven shots highlighted by Gibson running ahead and taking a half court pass from Rose for a dunk. That enabled the Bulls to take a 17-6 lead. Utah came back with the inside play of Derrick Favors with 11 in the quarter as the Bulls led 25-19 after the first quarter.

Bobby Portis made a consecutive jumpers early in the second quarter with a Mirotic scoop for a 32-22 Bulls lead with the reserves maintaining a lead after a good performance against the Nets. The starters with Portis remaining came back with 7:41 left and scored on five of the next six possessions with Rose with his outside shot going well. The Bulls went ahead 43-30, though continued to have trouble containing Favors inside with Gasol and Joakim Noah. Rose had 16 in the half as the Bulls took a 50-40 lead. Favors had 17.

The Bulls started the second half with a Felicio spinning scoop for a score as the backup has shown poise in his emergency reserve role. The Bulls took a 56-45 lead and then sent the Jazz into a timeout after a Felicio inbounds pass steal and Rose to Gibson pass for a dunk and 62-52 lead with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. The Bulls moved out to a 72-57 lead on Mirotic three, but the Bulls don’t deal with prosperity will, turning the ball over as the Jazz scored five straight to send the Bulls to a timeout. Mirotic and Doug McDermott have developed a nice coordination and connected again Mirotic to McDermott. McDermott then finished off a 79-67 lead after three with a tough turnaround at the shot clock.