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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Chicago Bulls pounded out a 91-86 win over the Jazz and made concealing fourth quarter efforts all but impossible for Utah as three former Jazzmen came through with critical plays for the Bulls Wednesday night.
Besides the red and black jerseys and playing for a team that's in the upper half of its respective conference's standings, not much has changed for Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer since the move to Chicago. Boozer's still fluid on the fade-away, Korver's still draining threes and rocking the knee-highs, and Brewer's still coming off the bench and playing a solid defensive role; much like they did when they called EnergySolutions Arena their home.
(I got) a little bit of everything (from the crowd), it was fun.
The reception the three were given didn't stray much from those received in past seasons as Korver and Brewer were welcomed into the arena with open arms.
Boozer's greeting, although delivered from a more hostile disposition, sounded strikingly similar to the fueling ovation he received nightly while playing for Utah. The boos that bellowed from the crowd that was probably just a little more emotional than it should have been given Boozer's return, didn't seem to bother the former Jazzman, and neither did the handful of taunting, homemade signs that came with them.
"(I got) a little bit of everything, it was fun," Boozer said. "I didn't see any signs, I was just focused on the court."
Boozer's night was not the loudest of his career, but he still managed 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and added six rebounds, three assists and two steals. The attention he captured from the crowd and Utah's defense provided an advantage for fellow Bull Derrick Rose who was allowed just about all he attempted, and who was Boozer's only teammate to reach double figures.
Korver and Brewer played limited minutes but used them effectively and to Chicago's advantage as Brewer supplied a defensive presence and Korver pulled Utah's defense to the perimeter.
"We know Kyle can make three, he made three then. We know Ronnie Brewer can steal the ball, he stole the ball then," Andrei Kirilenko said. "I think we did a pretty good job on (Boozer), forced him out a little bit."
Deron vs. Derrick
While Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson dictated nearly every play made in the paint, outscoring Boozer and Kurt Thomas 46-22 on the night, Rose dominated the battle of the point guards. Rose posted 29 points and handed out seven assists in a fluid four-quarter effort, while Deron Williams spent nearly as much time trying to find his shot, or someone else who had one.
Williams opened the game with one point in the first quarter and only slightly improved his scoring until the fourth, adding four points in the second before being held scoreless in the third.
Williams narrowly avoided what would have been only the second time this season he didn't reach double digits as he notched six points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 11 points and 12 assists. After stringing together nearly 20 minutes of game time without scoring, Williams hit three big shots in the final 6:25 of the game, bringing the Jazz neck-and-neck with the Bulls as the final minutes wound off the clock.
The last-minute effort from Williams aided the Jazz in dwindling Chicago's once six-point lead to one with a minute and a half left on the clock, but in the three possessions that followed, Williams and his pass attempts were picked off by Rose, Boozer and Brewer. Brewer's steal with 7.9 seconds remaining and the two free throws that followed the foul on the fast break clinched the win for Chicago.
"Put (the loss) on me, because at the end of the game, I had the ball in my hands. I've gotta make the plays to win the game," Williams said. "Two turnovers; not characteristic for me. Put it on me."
Put (the loss) on me, because at the end of the game, I had the ball in my hands.
Williams racked up five turnovers on the night, including three that came in the final 1:05.
"(Brewer, Korver and I) had figured they were going to run some of the same plays from our years, and late in the game when (Williams) drove and kicked it, Ronnie got the steal and sealed the game for us," Boozer said. "We knew it was one of two plays, and we picked the right one."
Rose, who made the plays down the stretch to keep Chicago's season record free of a three-game losing streak, said employing the ownership of the game Williams mentioned
"With four minutes, five minutes left in the fourth quarter, that's when the star of the team is supposed to create for others. Especially me being the point guard, that's what I was trying to do," Rose said.