Bulls lose fourth straight, remain winless on 'Circus Trip'

Bulls lose fourth straight, remain winless on 'Circus Trip'
November 25, 2013, 10:15 pm
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SALT LAKE CITY — With Derrick Rose’s fate announced earlier Monday — following right-knee surgery, the former league MVP won’t return this season — the Bulls (6-7) didn’t play their most inspired basketball at Energy Solutions Arena and although they came back to take the game to overtime, they couldn’t get over the hump, falling to the Jazz (2-14), 89-83, for their fourth consecutive loss.

[RELATED: For better or worse, Bulls likely to remain competitive]

Facing a young, one-win squad, the Bulls struggled offensively at the outset, with only power forward Carlos Boozer (26 points, 16 rebounds), who previously played for Utah, offering effective production in his former home arena. With rookie swingman Tony Snell earning his first NBA start, the visitors didn’t muster up a lot of energy and their trademark defense was also lacking.

The Jazz, led by big man Derrick Favors and rookie point guard Trey Burke, built a slim cushion and at the conclusion of the opening period, the Bulls faced a 23-18 deficit.

With ex-Bulls fan favorite John Lucas III coming off the bench to run the show, Utah maintained its momentum at the start of the second quarter, and the Jazz’s lead eventually ballooned to double digits. Making matters worse, All-Star center Joakim Noah (10 points, 13 rebounds) picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official and veteran floor general had to briefly leave the game with a bloody nose and was replaced by 38-year-old Mike James, a sign that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was displeased with second-year point guard Marquis Teague’s play.

[MORE: Bulls left in uncertainty]

Both teams shot an identical 38.5 percent from the field in the first half, but at the intermission, the Bulls trailed, 40-32, as the likes of Jazz leading scorer Gordon Hayward and veteran forward Marvin Williams made an offensive impact, while Utah’s size gave the visitors problems on the glass.

After the break, Hinrich returned to the lineup and correspondingly, the Bulls immediately narrowed the gap. Noah and Luol Deng (24 points, 10 rebounds) picked up their play, while Boozer stayed consistent and Snell also made some scoring contributions. But they couldn’t make significant inroads and after Hinrich committed a flagrant foul on Lucas, the Jazz made another surge and heading into the final stanza, the Bulls remained behind, 64-56.

[RELATED: Dunleavy thinks Bulls will fight through loss of Rose]

Predictably, Deng emerged as the Bulls’ go-to scorer in the fourth quarter and gradually, the deficit was trimmed and the game evolved into a close-knit affair, also courtesy of the Bulls’ increased intensity on the defensive end of the floor. The Bulls briefly seized the lead midway through the period and after Favors, Utah’s main interior presence fouled out down the stretch, it became open season on attacking the paint, already their preferred approach in the frame.

A controversial three-point play by veteran Richard Jefferson — he appeared to take an extra step, but was awarded continuation by referee Tony Brothers — gave Utah the lead and the Bulls trailed by a point, 78-77, with 44.6 seconds left. On the subsequent possession, Noah corralled a Deng miss and was fouled with 32.2 seconds on the clock, then hit one of two attempts from the charity stripe, the first shot barely grazing the rim, to tie the contest.

[MORE: Reinsdorf 'heartbroken' over Rose's injury]

Hayward missed a contested jumper and the Bulls secured the rebound with 7.7 seconds remaining. After Deng missed a tough shot, Boozer got the board, but missed the putback, sending the game into an extra session.

Noah fouled out in overtime with the Bulls already down two points, then Burke knocked down a three-pointer to give Utah an 83-78 cushion with 3:10 to play. A lob from Hayward, a playmaking swingman, to former NBA slam-dunk champion Jeremy Evans for an alley-oop dunk with 1:25 left extended the Jazz’s lead, but although Boozer scored on the next trip, giving the Bulls a sense of hope, they couldn’t make the necessary offensive plays to get their first win on the ongoing “Circus Trip.”