Gooden's double-double helps Bulls cruise past JazzMar 12, 2008 - 4:39 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The addition of Drew Gooden continues to help the Chicago Bulls draw closer to a playoff spot.
Gooden scored 24 points and hauled in 10 rebounds as the Bulls posted a 108-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
Reserve Ben Gordon scored 19 points and Luol Deng scored 14 for Chicago (26-38), which is just a one-half game behind the idle Atlanta Hawks (26-37) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We needed to establish a defensive intensity at home," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "If we are going to make a playoff push, this is the intensity we have to play with. We can't get too excited about this win, it is only one victory."
Kirk Hinrich had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Thabo Sefolosha - in his first game back after missing six contests with a groin strain - scored 11 off the bench for the Bulls, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Jazz.
"It felt good to be back out on the floor," Sefolosha said. "I am not 100 percent yet, so I have to be careful, the main thing is that we got a win."
But victories have been rare for Chicago when facing Utah.
Since Michael Jordan put the Jazz away in Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals - giving the Bulls their sixth title - Utah has won 15 of the 20 meetings the teams have played since.
"Tonight they man-handled us from the start," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Give Chicago all the credit, they kept us on the perimeter all game."
Mehmet Okur had 22 points and 18 rebounds and Deron Williams added 20 and 10 for the Jazz (42-23), who had their five-game winning streak snapped. Williams also had six turnovers for Utah, which shot 43 percent (32-of-75).
"Everybody was missing shots tonight," Okur said. "Then, we gave up easy baskets, we let them dunk and get to the free-throw line. They played their game, and we let them."
Gooden, who connected on 11-of-18 from the floor, has four double-doubles since being acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline. He converted a three-point play 68 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Chicago its largest lead at 92-73.
"Considering our opponent, and what we had to do, this is my best game since being with the Bulls," Gooden said. "We played good team defense, and I have to thank my teammates for giving me some good looks."
After Ronnie Brewer split a pair of foul shots to cut the Jazz's deficit to 100-90 with 5:20 left, Gordon drilled his fourth shot from the arc 28 seconds later to help Chicago maintain a double-digit margin the rest of the way. The Bulls were 9-of-18 from 3-point range.
Utah jumped out to an early 16-10 lead on Brewer's layup with 5:32 left in the first quarter. Chicago then countered with a 15-7 run to end the period with a 25-23 lead. Gordon paced the spurt with five points.
"This is the best game we have played in a while," Gordon said. "If we are going to make the playoffs we have to play like this, night in and night out."
The Bulls continued to turn up the pressure in the second quarter, outscoring the Jazz, 30-19, for the period to take a 55-42 halftime lead.
Chicago, which shot 47 percent (42-of-90), held the Jazz - the NBA's highest scoring team in points in the paint - to only 12 in the first half.
"We stepped it up defensively," Deng said. "It's nice that we are still in a position to make a run for the playoffs. Now, we have to win some games and get a streak going."
All-Star Carlos Boozer had just 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting for Utah, which lost the first game on its current four-game road trip.
CHICAGO 108 FINAL
Mar 11 10:52 PM
CHICAGO 86 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 11 10:20 PM
CHICAGO 55 HALFTIME
Mar 11 9:36 PM
CHICAGO 25 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 11 9:06 PM
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