for this game

Rose, Gordon lead Bulls to victory over Jazz

Dec 21, 2008 - 5:27 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- For the first time since the 2004-05 campaign, the Chicago Bulls have swept the season series with the Utah Jazz.

The Bulls' backcourt duo of Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon combined for 50 points and the Bulls' defense clamped down over the final 3 1/2 minutes of play en route to a 106-98 triumph over the Jazz on Saturday night.

"We are coming along, but we have a long way to go," Rose said. "I think you can call us a work in progress."

After cutting the Bulls' lead to three on Mehmet Okur's three-point play with 3:43 on the clock, the Jazz missed their last six field-goal attempts and committed a pair of costly turnovers as Chicago hung on.

"The key for us tonight was defense," Gordon said. "We were able to change the pace of the game by stealing the ball. With a small lineup we had to use our speed to our advantage. Good defense and smart shooting won the game for us."

With less than a minute to play and the Bulls leading by five, Rose - the rookie point guard who has already shown regular flashes of veteran savvy - wore some time off the clock, took Deron Williams off the dribble and dropped in a layup off the glass to extend the lead to seven.

"The past couple of games, I have been more relaxed; tonight I was much more intense with my game," Rose said. "Vinny has been telling me to be more aggressive toward the basket and tonight I made that part of my game."

That essentially sealed it up for Chicago, which improved to 10-3 at home. The Bulls also defeated the Jazz in Salt Lake City last month on Larry Hughes' buzzer-beater.

Neither team was able to establish much control - at least not for an extended period of time. The Jazz took a five-point edge on C.J. Miles' runner late in the third, but the Bulls answered back with a 7-0 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters. Utah responded by scoring the next six points and the game continue to go back and forth.

In the end, the Jazz - fresh off a double-overtime victory in Detroit on Friday night - didn't have enough.

"I think the biggest thing in this game is that they just out hustled us," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.

The Bulls finally got some sort of cushion late in the final frame, as Rose attacked the basket on consecutive possessions and came away with four points - a pair of free throws and a layup.

"Turning the ball over 20 times giving them 29 points," Sloan said. "We had chances to take advantage of our size but we took too many 3-point shots. You don't want to get into a track meet with the Bulls."

Gordon followed with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 98-92 before Okur's three-point play cut the deficit in half.

Okur led Utah with 23 points and 13 boards, while Paul Millsap registered his 15th consecutive double-double with 22 and 10. Williams added 19 points and six assists. None of it was enough to overcome 20 turnovers.

"It is something we have to work on; we start off sloppy at the beginning of games, then it become contagious to all of us," Williams said. "We are just a little too aggressive with our passing."

The Jazz were once again playing without All-Star forward Carlos Boozer, who missed his 17th straight game while battling nagging quad and knee injuries. The biggest obstacle seems to be lingering pain stemming from a bone bruise in his left knee. He underwent a second MRI on Thursday, but results were inconclusive.

According to a report Saturday in The Salt Lake Tribune, he will see a specialist on December 29.

Andres Nocioni added 15 points and eight boards for the Bulls, while Hughes and Thabo Sefolosha added 10 apiece off the bench.

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