The Bulls Thursday survived a brutally slow and tenacious game, defeating the Utah Jazz 85-77.
It was the Bulls fourth consecutive victory and fifth in six games. The Bulls are 8-4 and play the Clippers Saturday in the third game of the road trip. The Jazz is 7-6.
Dwyane Wade made a pair of clutch jumpers for the only field goals for the Bulls in an eight-minute fourth quarter stretch to hold off the Jazz and then Jimmy Butler added a jumper with 1:11 left to effectively seal the win for the Bulls.
The Bulls were led by Butler with 20 points and 12 rebounds and 18 points from Wade. Robin Lopez with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Taj Gibson with eight points and nine rebounds throttled the Jazz with their interior defense.
The Bulls won despite 36.7 percent shooting with a season low eight assists and being outrebounded.
The Bulls were without Rajon Rondo and Doug McDermott again, Rondo with a sprained ankle and McDermott probably missing the road trip with concussion treatment. The Jazz was missing starters George Hill and Derrick Favors with injuries. Rondo’s absence gave Jerian Grant another start, and he was aggressive quickly with a pullup jumper in the Bulls 12-5 start, going inside again to Robin Lopez, who had eight points in the first quarter. The Jazz danced back with Rudy Gobert on the offensive boards and seven first quarter rebounds for a 26-25 Jazz lead after one. Butler had nine points. The Bulls took a 34-29 lead early in the second quarter with rookie Denzel Valentine making some clever passes for scores. But the usually weak rebounding Jazz continued to pursue second shots for scores and a tie at 36 midway through the second quarter. Both teams hit droughts with a stretch in the second quarter of both teams combining to miss 12 straight shots, the Jazz with five turnovers in six possessions and the Bulls going six minutes without a field goal. Utah went on to lead 43-41 at halftime with the Bulls having only two first half assists on 15 of 52 shooting. It tied a franchise low for assists in a half. Butler made a three to end the half, extending his arms as if to say, “Finally,” the Bulls second field goal in the previous nine minutes. The teams combined to shoot 12 for 46 in the second quarter.
The Bulls came out in the third quarter with more offensive purpose, going on an 8-0 run as the Jazz failed to score in its first seven possessions. That gave the Bulls a 49-43 lead and they pushed it out to 59-50 on a 21-4 run since the Butler three to end the half. Wade with a pair of pull up jumpers in the run seemed to get the offense back in gear. The Bulls closed the third quarter with a three pointer and fast break layup from Nikola Mirotic for a 66-58 Bulls lead going into the fourth quarter. Mirotic kept it going to start the fourth in a good sequence for the reserves with a driving dunk, steal and then pass for a Denzel Valentine three and a 15-point Bulls lead. But a 10-1 Jazz run midway through the quarter made it close heading down the stretch.