CHICAGO (AP)– Donovan Mitchell relishes a challenge.
“When the odds are stacked against us, with our backs up against the wall, that’s when we play our best,” said Mitchell, who filled in at point guard again as Utah is still missing its top three at that position.
Mitchell scored 34 points, his third straight game with more than 30, to help the Jazz pull away from the Chicago Bulls 110-102 on Saturday night.
After struggling with his shot in the first few months of the season, the second-year guard has started making defenses pay for going under screens, but more than that he’s making quicker reads and making the most potent play.
“If you start missing shots and then you just stop taking them, then the defense wins. We just continue to take good shots,” said Mitchell, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls trailed only 97-92 before Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 105-92 with 2:23 remaining.
Ingles, who had 16 points, then waved goodbye as he backpedaled down the court, clinching Utah’s fifth win in its last six games.
Zach LaVine scored 21 points and Lauri Markkanen added 16 for the Bulls, who dropped their seventh straight.
“I think they made adjustments,” LaVine said. “Donovan did a good job of hitting some big-time shots. I think they got a lot of timely plays.”
The Jazz played their second game without their top three point guards: Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto.
But that might only make Mitchell more effective as he has the ball in his hands more. He had six assists.
“He’s given himself permission to attack,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “He felt like he could bust through and use his explosiveness … he’s done a really good job at that in transition on missed baskets and steals.”
Rudy Gobert scored 15 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had a career-high eight assists as the Bulls collapsed on the big Frenchman and didn’t allow him rolls to the hoop.
Kyle Korver scored 16 points and passed Jason Terry to move into fourth place in NBA history with 2,284 3-pointers. Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Stephen Curry top the list.
“It means a lot. I’m grateful and I’m going to keep on shooting,” Korver said.
Mitchell’s recent tear has corresponded with the Jazz finally rising above .500 and replicating last season’s remarkable second-half success as their schedule finally softened.
“We don’t have a point guard right now but Donovan’s filling in great,” Korver said. “So to grind out a win on a back-to-back is really good for our team.”
The Bulls pressured the Jazz defensively and drove the lane on Gobert without fear after losing 146-109 to Golden State on Friday. Unlike past losses when the Bulls’ effort could be questioned, Chicago played hard but shots stopped falling midway through the final quarter.
“We talked about courage before the game after that difficult loss,” Chicago coach Jim Boylen said. “We battled from down 13. We didn’t fold. We competed.”
The Bulls outscored the Jazz 54-32 in the paint as they tried again and again to get to the rim and ceded 3-point attempts on the other end, consistently going under every screen.
Utah led 31-19 before Jabari Parker, who had only played one of the last 13 games, spurred a 16-2 run with seven points to give the Bulls a 35-33 edge. Chicago held the Jazz to 35 percent shooting and led at halftime 53-51.
Bulls: Several media outlets reported that Boylen has restructured his deal, which will result in a pay increase and a partial guarantee for next season. … Robin Lopez and Wendell Carter each had technical fouls in the second half. … Six Bulls scored in double figures.
Jazz: Jae Crowder went 1 for 13, continuing a slump that has him shooting 21 percent over his last five games. … The Jazz also were playing a back-to-back set but both were at home. … O’Neale tied a career high with 11 rebounds.
SNYDER NOTCHES 200th WIN
The Jazz players have never been shy about their respect for Snyder, who celebrated his 200th win with the Jazz. Since becoming the coach in 2014, he is 200-174.
“He’s one of the best coaches in the NBA, not just as a coach but as a person and I think that’s what attracts us to him so much,” Mitchell said. “I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else.”
Ingles added, “What Coach brings is passion for us getting better … he’s the best coach I’ve played for, by far. He gives us so much confidence to go out there and do what we need to do.”
Bulls: Continue their five-game road trip at the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Jazz: Finish their four-game homestand against Detroit on Monday.
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