Boozer’s Big Fourth Lifts Bulls Over Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — After dealing with foul trouble most of the night, Carlos Boozer got mad.
He drew a technical after a no-call with 4:12 left. Then, he got even, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 93-89 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
“It was a good win for us,” said Boozer, who played five years with the Jazz.
Boozer scored 19 points, including 11 straight in the fourth quarter, and the Bulls closed out a six-game road trip on a positive note. It sure felt better than 24 hours earlier, when the Bulls suffered a 32-point loss in Denver.
“Last night, we had a decent first half, but got blown out in the third quarter,” Boozer said. “We all felt terrible. . (Friday) we did a good job of finishing.”
It made up for Tom Thibodeau’s worst loss as the Bulls’ coach.
“We needed to bounce back,” Thibodeau said. “We took a punch last night, but today we got up and fought. That is exactly what you have to do. You can’t look backwards, you can’t look ahead, you have to look at exactly what is in front of you.”
The Bulls easily could have been looking at their third straight loss, especially with Al Jefferson hitting from everywhere.
Utah’s big man had a season-high 32 points, going 4 of 4 in the third, then scoring the first eight in the fourth period to give the Jazz a 77-73 lead.
Boozer got rolling with about 5 minutes remaining.
His layup tied it at 83 with 2:29 left and he scored the next five from the free throw line, including a pair with 27 seconds left for an 88-85 Bulls lead.
Randy Foye’s layup pulled Utah to 88-87 with 22 seconds to go, but Chicago sealed it at the foul line.
“I’m not sure he’s the guy who beat us,” Millsap said of Boozer, who he forced into early foul trouble. “They’ve got a whole team and they did a good job. Down the stretch, he hits a couple of shots, got fouled but that’s not what lost us the game.”
Jefferson and Millsap got little help from their teammates, with no bench players in double figures and Marvin Williams shooting 1 of 6.
As a team, Utah made shot 4 of 16 from beyond the arc.
The win came almost two years to the day that the Bulls beat Utah by six in the finale for Hall of Fame Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who abruptly resigned the following afternoon.
Sloan was in the arena Friday.
He watched Jefferson put on a shooting clinic, hitting 15 of his first 20 shots, only to miss his final two after being forced a bit beyond his range.
“If he’s making his shot like that he’s unstoppable,” Foye said. “You already know what he can do with his back to the basket.”
Jeffferson said the team just needs to take better advantage when he is double-teamed and players are fronting him.
“I think we did for the most part, we had a chance to win,” said Jefferson, who added 13 rebounds and two blocks. “Things just didn’t go our way in the end.”
The Jazz were down by 13 at one point, then held the Bulls to 11 points in the third quarter after giving up 58 in the first half.
Even after blowing a lead in the fourth, Utah had a chance late.
Millsap’s step-back 3-pointer with 16.9 seconds left missed with Utah trailing 90-87. Luol Deng went 3 of 4 on free throws around a runner by Foye to clinch the victory for Chicago.
Millsap had 21 points for Utah, which had won four of five. Nate Robinson added 18 points for the Bulls.
Chicago led 58-50 going into halftime after shooting nearly 60 percent (24 of 41). The big difference in the first half was the play of Taj Gibson (5 of 6) and Marco Belinelli (3 of 4), who combined for 17 points off the bench before the break.
Early on, Utah’s frontcourt duo of Jefferson and Millsap dominated, scoring 11 points each in the first quarter. Jefferson opened 4 of 5, spinning by Joakim Noah for a layup, dunking on him and then converting a three-point play to give Utah a 21-16 lead.
Millsap, meanwhile, went right at his former teammate, Boozer, forcing him into two early fouls.
It knocked Boozer out for a while, but not at the end.
“It was a good fight,” Gibson said.
NOTES: Sloan’s former top assistant, Phil Johnson, now works as a Jazz broadcaster but said he has no regrets about stepping down with Sloan, especially since he gets to stay in the game without all the travel. Recalling that night, when the Jazz lost to the Bulls, he said: “It was just time. It had stacked up during the course of the year and when he left I decided to go, too.” … Johnson doesn’t find it the least bit strange that Sloan frequently attends games as a fan. “I think he’d like to coach again, so he keeps watching the games,” Johnson said. “I think he’ll get some jobs offered.” … Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is 72-73 since taking over for Sloan. “There’s been a lot of experiences from that time until now,” Corbin said before the game about seeing a Hall of Fame coach resign and then All-Star point guard Deron Williams traded two weeks later. “We’ve grown a lot.” … Corbin on Jazz reserve Jeremy Evans being asked to defend his NBA Slam Dunk title: “He may jump over a van or something.” … Robinson was called for a technical with 3:09 left in the third, and Boozer got his own technical with 4:12 to play.
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