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Excitement Roars As Bulls Silence Jazz

Jeremy Evans, Joakim Noah

Jeremy Evans, Joakim Noah (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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As if the crowd wasn’t excited enough at halftime as the Bulls had the lead, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen reunited at center court to celebrate the ’90-91 Bulls championship. The cheers only continued to roar as Chicago toppled Utah by 18 points.

Derrick Rose and Luol Deng each scored 26 points, and the Chicago Bulls ran away with their 13th win in 15 games, all but grabbing a share of the Eastern Conference lead with an easy 118-100 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Rose scored 17 points in a blistering first quarter as the Bulls grabbed a 37-17 lead, and Chicago set a franchise record with 18 3-pointers while pulling within percentage points of Boston.

It was a championship-level performance by a team that’s trying to carve its own historical niche, and it came on a night when Chicago celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first title. With Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and other players and coaches from that team on hand for a halftime ceremony, the Bulls put on a show the old-timers could appreciate.

Rose, the All-Star point guard and MVP candidate, buried 5 of 11 3-pointers.

Deng added seven rebounds, six assists and three steals in another strong game despite a bruised left thigh. Joakim Noah contributed 16 points and nine rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 17, C.J. Watson added 16 points and eight assists, and Chicago won again even though Carlos Boozer missed his second game in as many nights with a sprained left ankle.

Al Jefferson had 33 points and 18 rebounds, Devin Harris scored 24, but the Jazz fell for the 10th time in 13 games since Jerry Sloan stepped down as coach.

Runaway winners in the second half Friday against Atlanta, the Bulls picked up right where they left off and took control right after they took off their warmups.

Rose followed up a strong finish against the Hawks with a big start, but the All-Star point guard wasn’t exactly a one-man show as the Bulls built that 37-17 lead.

Deng scored seven in the period.

Noah scored six points as the Bulls jumped out to an 11-0 lead, starting with a dunk on the opening possession.

The Jazz, meanwhile, missed their first five shots before Jeremy Evans ended the drought with a dunk, but the Bulls simply couldn’t be stopped.

Rose and Keith Bogans answered with 3-pointers to make it 17-2 and things got even more ridiculous from there. Back-to-back 3s by Rose made it 30-10 with just over two minutes left, drawing another “MVP! MVP!” chant from the crowd, and he struck again right after Jefferson hit a 17-footer in the closing seconds.

This time, Rose nailed a 3 from just to the right of the top of the key as the buzzer sounded, making it 37-17 and leaving the crowd roaring again.

NOTES: Chicago’s previous record for 3-pointers was 15 against Miami on Dec. 30, 1994. … The Bulls also set season-highs for points in the first quarter and in the first half (68). … Chicago saw plenty of Sloan on Saturday even if the legendary coach is no longer on the Jazz sideline. “It’s different, but there’s a lot of things still there, from how they play to Ty Corbin played for him,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had been an assistant for a long time under him. Scott Layden has been around him practically his whole life. They’re the same, the same organization, and it represents all the things that he stood for.”

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