SALT LAKE CITY — Maybe there is something to the notion that the Utah Jazz’s schedule is supposed to be easier during the second half of its season, although Saturday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls didn’t necessarily show it.
In a contest that was close most of the way, the Jazz found a way to grab their third straight win in the last four days at Vivint Arena, as they pulled away from the Bulls in the fourth quarter and won, 110-102.
With the victory, the Jazz moved to 23-21 on the season, while the lowly Bulls lost their seventh straight contest to fall to 10-33 on the campaign.
Donovan Mitchell was once again excellent, reaching the 30-point mark for the third straight game, finishing with 34 on 11-of-24 shooting. Starting once again at point guard, Mitchell also had six assists, six rebounds and two blocks.
Having struggled some over the first few months of the season, Mitchell has now scored at least 26 points in five straight games.
Kyle Korver and Joe Ingles had 16 points apiece, and Rudy Gobert finished with 15. Zach LaVine led Chicago with 21 points. Six Bulls players finished in double-figures on a night when both teams were playing their third contest in four nights, although all three of the Jazz’s have been at home while all of Chicago’s have been on the road.
Still, Utah head coach Quin Snyder was complimentary of his team for grinding out the victory, his 200th as head coach of the Jazz, after the club won on Friday night.
“To come back again and have to do that again on a back-to-back, it’s hard,” Snyder said. “I thought we kept our focus.”
Korver echoed the thoughts about playing two games on consecutive nights, regardless of their location.
“When it comes to back-to-backs, you’ve just got to get the win,” he said. “They’re not always pretty. Anything can happen in a back-to-back. Guys are tired, guys don’t have their legs, maybe you don’t shoot the ball well. You’ve just got to find ways to get it.”
The Jazz shot a whopping 45 3-pointers and made 16 of them, with Korver going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc to pass Jason Terry for fourth in NBA history in 3-pointers made.
The game was tight from early in the second quarter until midway through the fourth, as Utah struggled from the field and Chicago played better than its record might indicate. The Bulls actually led 89-88 with 7:56 remaining after a Lauri Markkanen jumper, but then the Jazz finally grasped hold of the game.
Over the next 2:32, Utah went on a 9-0 run to take a 97-89 advantage, and Chicago couldn’t rally. Mitchell scored five points during the run, Gobert and Korver added a bucket apiece and the Bulls never got a shot to go during the stretch.
“It came down to stops, getting stops and competing and being persistent,” Mitchell said.
Early on, it appeared as though the Jazz might be able to run away with the win. Although Utah shot just 42 percent from the field in the first quarter, it held Chicago to just 8-of-23 and 19 points in the frame. Additionally, the Jazz were 6-of-13 from beyond the arc in the quartter and had eight assists with an impressive four blocked shots.
But the Bulls charged back quickly, opening the second quarter on a 16-4 run to take a two-point lead. The road side held that same advantage at intermission as Utah shot just 5-of-19 from the field in the frame.
“That was tough because we had built a lead,” Snyder said of Chicago’s early run in the second. “I thought we responded well from that and really responded throughout the course of the game.”
To be sure, it wasn’t exactly easy from that point. The Jazz led by as many as six in the third quarter but could never put the game out of reach until the closing minutes.
Utah will get Sunday off before closing its four-game home stand on Monday night against the Detroit Pistons.
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