If only Derrick Rose can stay healthy.
Because lately, he has been a positive factor for the Chicago Bulls as they battle for a playoff berth.
Rose scored 16 points in the first half on lights out shooting and 22 for the game, to lead the Bulls to a needed win over visiting Utah, 92-85.
The Bulls had a 50-40 lead at half-time and increased it to 15 points in the second half. Chicago had a 12 point lead starting the 4th quarter, but Utah came back on a 10-2 run to tighten the game, but the Bulls held on.
Coach Fred Hoiberg of the Bulls saw his team jump out early against the Jazz on the strength of Rose’s hot start.
“Getting off to a great start needs to be a constant with us,” Hoiberg said. “For the past few games we’ve gotten going and jumped out to double-digit leads.”
Chicago (35-33) is holding off the Detroit Pistons for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and the Washington Wizards are not far behind with their win over the New York Knicks last night.
The Bulls just have to go out and get wins. Something Taj Gibson, who collected 15 points and 10 rebounds, spoke about after the game.
“We have to focus on getting wins,” said Gibson. He said the team can’t worry about what other teams are doing. “You have to focus on yourself.”
Chicago has 14 games to end the season on a winning note and perhaps earn a playoff spot. Right now, they are doing it without Pau Gasol who remains out with a swollen right knee and E’Twaun Moore who tweaked his hamstring the other night.
Utah had a four-game win streak stopped. Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 24 points. Gordon Hayward, the team’s leading scorer, had an off shooting night (4-13) and only scored 9 points.
Nikola Mirotic had 15 points for the Bulls and Jimmy Butler added 13 as he gets back into game shape from his knee injury. Butler showed some flashes on offense and that bodes well for Chicago.
Bobby Portis added 9 for Chicago which is in the midst of a home stand. They play the Sacramento Kings next.