THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHICAGO — Try as they might, the Chicago Bulls couldn’t get Loul Deng his first triple-double.
No matter, the Bulls still won handily.
Deng had 19 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals to lead Chicago to a 97-73 victory over Utah on Friday night that snapped the Bulls’ two-game skid and kept the Jazz winless.
Carlos Boozer added 18 points, Joakim Noah had 14 and Derrick Rose 12 for the Bulls.
”I think we tried like five times (to get the triple-double for Deng), but it didn’t work out,” Rose said. “When Tibs (head coach Tom Thibodeau) brought him out, the fans got kind of upset, but if anything, I’m super proud of his performance tonight.”
The Bulls dominated in the paint, scoring 56 points to 22 for Utah. Overall, Chicago outshot Utah 52.8 percent to 29.8 percent in winning its sixth straight against the Jazz.
”I thought there was a lot of unselfish play, guys making the extra pass,” Thibodeau said. “I thought the screen was a lot better, hitting the open man, running the floor, a great effort defensively, and that’s what it’s going to take.”
The Jazz (0-6) are off to their worst start since their debut NBA season in New Orleans in 1974-75, when they lost their first 11 games.
”We have to make sure that we don’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We have to just keep fighting. We’re struggling. We’re in a bad spot right now. They’re a good defensive team. We made them look real good tonight, shooting 29 percent.”
Chicago built its biggest lead of the first half at 38-22 with 8:10 left in the second quarter and never looked back. The Bulls took their biggest lead at 89-60 with 8:39 left in the game.
With the game in hand, Thibodeau gave his reserves plenty of playing time, and four of the Bulls starters (Rose, Boozer, Noah and Jimmy Butler) played 28 or less minutes.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 15 points, while Derrick Favors and Alec Burks had 10 points apiece, and Rudy Gobert grabbed 12 rebounds.
”(We’re) frustrated, frustrated,” Hayward said. “(We’ve) got to find some way to get the job done. We just got to get through this real rough patch we’re going through. If you can’t score the basketball, it just puts too much pressure on your defense.”
Chicago jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, backed by five points from Rose, but the Jazz got back to 9-7, the closest they would get in the game.
Chicago then went on a 21-11 streak to close the first quarter ahead 30-18.
The Bulls outshot the Jazz 72.2 percent (13 of 18) to 33.3 percent (7 of 21) in the opening quarter.
”I thought the first quarter was terrific and that set the tone for the game,” Thibodeau said. “Our starters made sure that the group functioned well together and that was a big plus for us.”
Utah never got closer than eight points the rest of the way, shooting a 27.7 percent (13 of 47) in the first half. Chicago made 60.6 percent (20 of 33) of its shots in the first half and led 51-40 at intermission.
Things didn’t get much better for the Jazz in the second half. Before the game, Corbin said fatigue had been an issue with his young team thus far, and that showed once again in the final two quarters.
Even with the win, Thibodeau was not completely happy with the game, particularly turnovers. Chicago coughed up the ball 21 times, leading to 13 Utah points.
”We still have a lot of questions we have to (answer),” Thibodeau said. “One game doesn’t mean everything is straightened out. We have to take a hard look at ourselves and make the necessary corrections.”
Added Rose, “We’re just trying to iron out the wrinkles and I think we’re still a good team.”