Fighting the Monday blues with the Utah Jazz, the Chicago Bulls fall to the Western Conference leaders at home 120 – 95. Both teams coming off a recent win, the Jazz end a five-game road show 3-2 as MVP contender Donovan Mitchell dominated the game, both inside and outside the paint. The Bulls continue to struggle against top-tier teams such as the Jazz, which they continue to face if they have any hopes of making a playoff berth, of which the Jazz have potentially solidified.
Chicago Bulls Highlights
Not surprising, Chicago’s All-Star Zach LaVine led the team in points at 27, shooting 10-25 in the paint and 4-10 behind the arc. Playing against the second-best defense against 3-point shooters, LaVine took most of his shots in the key going up against a strong Utah Center Rudy Gobert. Getting hot in the 3rd quarter, LaVine seemed to lose steam half way through the fourth, playing only 32 minutes.
Thaddeus Young also put up some respectable numbers, especially against a team like the Jazz, following LaVine at 14 points and shooting 7-14 in the paint. Only one rebound away from a double-double, Young led the team in offensive rebounds and rebounds in general. We also almost witnessed an NBA highlight-reel dunk from the 6’8” Georgia Tech alum, but it was slightly overshot.
For the Bulls, the problem continues to come back to the same question: who will be the number two player Zach LaVine can rely on. In a game like tonight, you needed your veteran players to step up and take control of the game early on. Players like Lauri Markkanen and Coby White, who earned a combined 18 points, have to support their All Star and not rely on him to save the game. Moving forward, the Bulls look to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday, two floors below the Bulls in the standings in the Eastern Conference at 16-27.
Utah Jazz Highlights
The Jazz are heading back to the Deseret State 3-2 on their five-game road trip, having previously taken on the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtic, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors. This game was absolutely dominated by Donovan Mitchell, who led the Jazz in points at 30 and 6 assists. Mitchell shot 11-19 at the point and 5-8 from deep. Mitchell tore through the Bulls defense and shot 57.9% in the paint, which he hasn’t done since playing the New Orleans Pelicans on January 21. Mitchell continues to show that not only can he be a reliant player, he can run the court as well.
Mitchell had help from his fellow starters, along with some bench players, as well. While Mitchell put up some impressive numbers, Rudy Gobert is silently become one of the top centers in the league, extending a streak of six double-double games in a row, shooting 81.8% in the paint and 9 blocks. He’s currently 2nd in the league in rebounds, and that showed tonight with 10 rebounds. The Jazz also saw quality plays from Jordan Clarkson and Joe ingles, who made five out of his six shots outside the horn.
Now past the halfway point in the season, the Jazz continue to keep their sights set on a solid run in the post season. They still have some issues when it comes to turnovers, as well as defending against quality teams, but the Jazz have the tools necessary to make it to the franchise’s 30th playoff berth. For the short term, the Jazz will set their sights on hosting a red-hot Brooklyn Nets team on Wednesday, who are 7-1 in their past eight games.