Kirilenko Hurt as Jazz Fall in Chicago
Chicago 103, Utah 98
CHICAGO, Nov. 12 (Ticker) -- Kirk Hinrich's ability to shake off a sprained ankle has been critical to the Chicago Bulls' winning start. The Utah Jazz are hoping for the same from Andrei Kirilenko.
Hinrich scored 19 points and had 11 assists and Andres Nocioni had all 15 of his points after halftime as the Bulls posted a 103-98 victory over the Jazz, who lost Kirilenko to a sprained right ankle in the first half.
"We can't worry about one guy getting hurt," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "The other guys have to step up too, they get paid on the first and 15th of the month like everybody else. Losing one guy is no excuse."
Utah was trailing, 34-22, at the time of Kirilenko's departure, due in large part to Hinrich's 11 points and four assists in the first quarter. He had 12 at the break when Chicago grabbed a 55-45 advantage, and emerged from a slump in time to help fend off the Jazz's rally.
"I feel pretty good right now," Hinrich said. "Even though I am still turning the ball over too much, and my decision-making isn't quite what it should be."
Shortly after Jarron Collins made one free throw to pull Utah within 83-81 with 9:33 left in the game, Hinrich, still stuck on 12 points, broke free for a layup and a four-point edge.
"They fought hard and we couldn't put them away," Hinrich said. "They are a good team and well-coached, we were just able to grind it out when we had to."
The Jazz got within three points on numerous occassions down the stretch, the last at 101-98 on two free throws by Mehmet Okur, who scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
"I felt good out there tonight," Okur said. "My teammates did a great job of creating wide-open shots for me all night, and when I play I just try to do my best."
Luol Deng recorded his 21st point on a free throw and Nocioni added one of his own in the closing seconds to seal things.
"We did a great job of not letting them get a lead or catching us," Deng said. "When they made runs I wish we had done a better job of containing them though. At least we got the win."
Ben Gordon added 17 points off the bench and Tyson Chandler grabbed 11 boards for Chicago (3-2), which embarks on a six-game road trip starting Monday at Golden State.
"We did get off to a better start tonight," Gordon said. "The guys who did come in off the bench, especially Luol and myself, I thought gave us a little bit of a spark."
The Bulls' bench outscored the Jazz reserves, 50-39. Deng, Gordon, Harrington and Michael Sweetney came off the bench to make 20-of-30 shots.
Okur made 12-of-19 shots and rookie Deron Williams, who starred at nearby University of Illinois, had 13 points off the bench before turning his left ankle in the closing minutes. He was able to walk off the floor under his own power.
"It was nice to be back here," Williams said. "It would have been better to win though. I think this is my first loss in this building. We just couldn't stop them when we needed to."
Chicago never trailed after Hinrich's 3-pointer made it 18-17 with 3:58 to go in the first quarter. Deng scored the game's next five points and the Bulls entered the second quarter with a 32-21 lead.