Bulls, Jazz face off on CSN

Bulls, Jazz face off on CSN
March 8, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Mark Strotman

Derrick Rose is close to returning, but it won’t happen tonight.

Instead the Bulls will continue their push to stay alive in the Eastern Conference standings when they host the Utah Jazz tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill.

The Bulls have lost two straight and four of seven, falling four games behind the Central Division-leading Pacers, who are now just percentage points behind the Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks for second place in the East.

[MORE: Report: Rose cleared to play, but no word when]

Tom Thibodeau’s group hasn’t topped 100 points during the recent seven-game skid, including an 83-point effort against the Spurs on Wednesday. The schedule hasn’t been kind to Chicago, with opponents including Miami, Oklahoma City, Brooklyn, Indiana and the aforementioned Spurs, but the slate only gets more difficult from here.

After tonight’s game against Utah, the Bulls head out west for a week to face the red-hot Los Angeles Lakers, the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors. The Bulls home vs. road splits (17-14 home, 17-13 away) have been nearly identical, but wins in the comfort of the United Center will make the road to a potential division championship all the more easy.

Tyrone Corbin’s group’s 22-8 record at the EnergySolutions Arena is the eighth-best home mark in the NBA, but its 10-21 road record is far-and-away the worst among playoff teams and contenders.

[MORE: Trio of Bulls out vs. Jazz]

Banged up Jazz center Al Jefferson (ankle) has missed the last two games and Mo Williams is just returning from a broken thumb that cost 36 games.

Their overload on talented bigs -— Paul Millsap and youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter -— have made Jefferson’s absence easier to handle. Whether he returns against the Bulls remains to be seen, as Jefferson is a game-time decision tonight.

The Bulls could use a victory to turn their struggles around before hitting the road, and Utah’s recent problems make this a prime opportunity for Chicago to get back in the win column.

Get the home call with Neil and Stacey tonight on Comcast SportsNet, and stay up-to-date on social media by checking out Bulls Pulse.