87 - 97 Final
  for this game

Jazz bounce back, edge shorthanded Bulls

Feb 10, 2008 - 5:44 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- The shorthanded Chicago Bulls were just what the Utah Jazz needed to get back in the win column but just barely.

A night after seeing their 10-game winning streak evaporate in a sluggish loss to Sacramento, the Jazz had to slug one out at home, edging the visiting Bulls, 97-87, on Saturday night.

"I know some people don't like back-to-backs but, when you have a tough game, you want to get back on the court as soon as possible so you can erase that memory," Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said. "We did a good job of erasing (Friday's) game."

Chicago was playing without three key starters as Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich were all out of the lineup with various ailments.

Though it wasn't pretty, one Utah streak remained intact. The club now has won 12 straight on its home floor, improving to a league-best 22-3 at home.

Deron Williams had a personal streak of his own snapped against the Kings. He fell just one assist short of his 10th consecutive double-double, keeping Utah's shaky offense just above water for the length of the game.

"It was an ugly game for us," Williams said. "I thought we could have done a better job executing and defending. But you've got to win them like that sometimes."

In this one, Williams scored 15 points and dished out 11 assists as the EnergySolutions Arena crowd periodically erupted into chants of "All-Star" in support of their stud point guard.

The third-year guard was passed up for the All-Star Game last week for the second year in a row.

On Saturday night, the Jazz looked out of sync for the second straight night, but finally pulled away down the stretch.

The Bulls cut a double-digit deficit down to just two near the end of the third period. But the Jazz felt the heat and immediately answered back.

"It's tough. You expend a lot of energy to work your way back to that point," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "You make your run back to them and then they need to hit a couple of shots to break your momentum, and they did that."

Ronnie Price, who has to fight for playing time with fellow backup point guard Jason Hart, gave Utah a lift off the bench.

He scored twice in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter - dropping in a layup on a drive to the basket and then taking advantage of Andrei Kirilenko's block by burying a 3-pointer with less than two seconds left in the quarter.

"I just tried to come in with energy. But everyone stepped up," Price said. "We put together a nice little run and got our lead expanded."

Less than a minute into the final quarter, Price scored on a dunk and, moments later, found Carlos Boozer on the wing for a jumper before capping his stellar night with another 3-pointer.

He scored 10 points as the Jazz bridged the third and fourth periods with a 16-4 run that all but sealed the team's 33rd victory of the season.

"A big part of why we won tonight was Ronnie Price. He came in, stepped up and provided us with a lot of energy in the second half," Williams said. "He hit some big shots to give us energy, give us confidence, and we took it from there."

Boozer, who has had an uncharacteristically slow start to February, overcame early foul trouble to become a key contributor down the stretch for Utah.

He scored 13 of his 22 points in the final period, including a drive to the basket and an emphatic dunk that pushed the lead to 94-82 with less than two minutes to play.

With so much firepower sidelined for Chicago, someone had to pick up the slack, and that someone was rookie Thabo Sefolosha, who had nearly tripled his season average by the midway point of the second quarter. He finished with 22 points, tying his career high.

Kirilenko added 15 and Paul Millsap came off the bench to chip in eight and six boards for Utah.

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