Bulls-Jazz Preview

Utah Jazz Status Check:
Record: 28-22
Division: 3-4
Conference: 15-17
Home Record: 19-5
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 2
Last game: 100-86 win over Milwaukee
PPG: 98.1 (11th)
Opponents PPG: 98.5 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 106.4 (11th)
Defensive Rating: 106.9 (23rd)
Pace: 91.2 (19th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .488 (18th)
Turnover Percentage: .138 (14th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .725 (22nd)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .289 (9th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .217 (24th)
Opp. eFG%: .500 (20th)
Opp. TO%: .139 (15th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .217 (24th)
Leading scorer: Al Jefferson (17.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Utah Injury Report:
Raja Bell: out (personal)
Gordon Hayward: doubtful (sprained shoulder)
Earl Watson: questionable (stress fracture)
Mo Williams: out (thumb)

The Bulls got utterly dominated last night against the Nuggets. They were crushed in fast break points (23-6), points in the paint (64-44) points off turnovers (28-10) and just plain old points (128-96). It was ugly. The 128 points were the most the Bulls have given up in the Tom Thibodeau era.

Chicago’s defense clearly didn’t show up, and neither did their hustle. The Nuggets were running all over the Bulls and beating them to rebounds, led by Kenneth Faried who never stopped moving. Faried scored 21 points on 9-10 shooting and grabbed 12 boards in his 26 minutes of action. Wilson Chandler went 5-5 from deep and dropped 24 points. Vladimir Radmanovic logged 13 minutes for the Bulls. That should tell you all you need to know.

The loss was awful, but Denver has won eight straight games now and is 22-3 at home, so there are much worse things than losing to the Nuggets in the Pepsi Center (like losing to the Bobcats at home).

The Bulls now head a little further west and turn their attention to the Jazz, who are also playing well. Utah has won two straight and nine of their last 12. They’re also no slouch at home, amassing a 19-5 record so far in the home arena. Chicago also ends its six-game road trip tonight in Salt Lake City, an injured road trip in which the Bulls have stumbled to a 2-3 record on.

Joakim Noah didn’t look good in his first game back from plantar fasciitis, and it will only get more difficult tonight for him and the rest of Chicago’s bigs. Utah has one of the best and deepest frontcourts in the league. It starts with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Jefferson is averaging a team-high 17.1 points to go with 9.6 rebounds. Millsap adds 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds. It doesn’t end there though. Enes Kanter averages 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes and Derrick Favors averages 15.4 and 10.5 per 36. This is a game the Bulls are going to miss Omer Asik more than usual, especially if Noah still looks a step or two slow as he did last night. It also means the Bulls have to pick their poison with which one of these guys Carlos Boozer will be guarding (my guess would be Millsap).

The Jazz took care of Milwaukee in Salt Lake City their last time out. Millsap and Jefferson each scored 19 points and they combined for 17 boards and four blocks. Kanter came off the bench for 17 points and Favors just missed a double-double, tallying nine points and eleven boards in 22 minutes. The Jazz are using their bigs more and more because of their injuries elsewhere. Gordon Hayward missed the Milwaukee game and is doubtful for tonight’s matchup. Mo Williams hasn’t played since December.

The Jazz scored 56 points in the paint compared to 36 for the Bucks. Utah also dominated the glass, winning the offensive rebounding battle 17-9 and the overall battle 50-37. The Bulls got out-rebounded 46-34 last night and gave up 64 points in the paint. That was mostly because of their lackadaisical defense, rather than good post play from Denver. Kosta Koufos scored just four points and JaVale McGee added ten, almost exclusively on dunks.

The good news is that since the Bulls got beaten so badly, and a lot of that was the starters, they are rested tonight. Noah played 23 minutes, Boozer played 22, Taj Gibson logged 17. Luol Deng (31) and Jimmy Butler (32) were the only guys to play more than 30 minutes (surprise, surprise).

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