Wed, 01 Feb 2023

Jazz, Bulls out to erase ugly road losses

Field Level Media
29 Nov 2022, 04:40 GMT+10

The Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls have something in common heading into their Monday night matchup in Salt Lake City.

Gut-wrenching losses on the road set the stage for the Monday date. The Bulls stumbled in Oklahoma City, losing 123-119 in overtime to the Thunder on Friday night after picking up impressive wins over the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks earlier in the week.

Chicago held a 108-104 lead with 2:33 to go in regulation and was on the verge of its first three-game winning streak this season, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a couple of free throws to help the Thunder force overtime and then drained five straight in the extra period to boost OKC during his latest 30-point night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points for Chicago, but he fouled Gilgeous-Alexander on a 3-point attempt to help the Thunder take the late lead in overtime.

Zach LaVine chipped in with 27 points.

The loss was the second leg of a six-game Western trip for Chicago.

"We've just got to be able to stay the course and respond," Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said. "Like I said, this wasn't going to be easy."

An early 10-point lead at Phoenix on Saturday was erased by the Suns. Deandre Ayton proved to be too much for slumping Utah with 29 points and 21 rebounds.

Ayton's big performance, which included a key steal in the final minute, led Devin Booker to joke, "I don't know what he ate for Thanksgiving, but I wish I went over there."

Ayton ate up the Jazz on Saturday night, dishing out three assists, blocking two shots and grabbing the game-clinching offensive rebound with two seconds remaining.

"We played hard against a good team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back, I'm very proud of that," Jazz coach Will Hardy said. "Our defense let us down in the fourth quarter. We got one stop in the first 11 minutes. ... We did not rebound down the stretch at all and we did not execute defensively on the last play."

The setback was Utah's fourth loss in a row and its seventh defeat in nine outings. The Jazz's once-sparkling 10-3 record continues to decline, and Utah enters the game with a 12-10 mark.

"One game, one stretch of the season doesn't define your season," Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk said. "You've got to go through ups-and-downs. Adversity -- learn from it and come out the other side better for it."

While the Jazz have missed Mike Conley, who's been out with a knee injury, they did get double-figure scoring in Phoenix from three bench players: Malik Beasley (14 points), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12) and Talen Horton-Tucker (10).

Collin Sexton contributed 20 points and five assists in a starting point guard role.

"He's continuing to grow in his understanding on the offensive end and how he can help his teammates," Hardy said. "I thought defensively, he had some really good moments guarding the ball. ... That's going to be a huge emphasis for him going forward."

Monday's game in Salt Lake will be just the ninth home game for the Jazz, who are 6-2 at Vivint Arena. The Bulls are 3-6 on the road.

--Field Level Media

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