The evening was a writer’s dream.
More storylines were packed into one game when Carlos Boozer came back to Salt Lake City than any other night all year.
The winner? The show-stealer in 91-86 Chicago Bulls victory?
It wasn’t the relief Jazz fans felt when longtime backup Paul Millsap outplayed his mentor, Boozer, in every aspect of the game.
The night didn’t belong to the shot-blocking festival that Millsap, Al Jefferson, and Andrei Kirilenko had whenever Boozer touched the ball.
Or when Boozer received his own LeBron James-like return from Utah’s fans. They weren’t saying “Booze.”
And it wasn’t the final touch that Ronnie Brewer stuck to his old team with less than ten seconds to play. Or the perfect shot that Kyle Korver drilled late in the fourth.
No. In fact, the game belonged to Derrick Rose. He owned it. He picked the Jazz apart. In every way possible, he buried Utah when it mattered the most.
Ironically, Utah played some of the most solid defense they’ve shown since December, forcing the Bulls to shoot less than 40 percent from the field. But it mattered little.
Sure, the box score says the Jazz shot only 52 percent from the free throw line and missed 10 attempts. It also says the Jazz committed seven more turnovers. And for toppers, it says Utah gave up 11 offensive rebounds, all in the second half.
But the Jazz didn't give the game away, even if it felt like it at times. No, Derrick Rose took the game away, ripped it from the loosening grip of the comeback kids, and never relinquished the coveted victory to a struggling opponent.
It all came down to Derrick Rose.
Maybe it was the off-balance corner-three he hit with the shot clock expiring in the fourth. Or it could have been the run-down steal from fellow All-Star Deron Williams’ pocket—a possession where the Jazz finally had an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Or the offensive rebound and put-back over Utah big man Al Jefferson, or the other turnover he forced Williams to in the final seconds.
Take your pick. That was only a taste of what Rose did to Utah in the final period alone. The final box score on Derrick Rose reads: 29 points, seven assists, three rebounds, one steal.
Rose led the Bulls to their first victory in three tries, avoiding Chicago’s first three-game skid all season. The win over the Jazz also gave Utah their first three-game losing streak at home all season.
The Jazz received another solid outing from Al Jefferson, who had 26 points and eight rebounds to go along with his three blocked shots. He’s turning into the All-Star that Deron Williams claimed he would be.
Paul Millsap received some major support from the Utah fans. One sign read: “Millsap=Power Forward, Boozer=Fragile Forward.” And as Boozer’s replacement, Millsap scored 20 points and pulled in 14 rebounds.
But on a night when the Jazz could have tied the New Orleans Hornets for fifth in the Western Conference, after slipping to as low as seventh, Derrick Rose spoiled any momentum the Jazz could have walked away with.
Rose continues his MVP campaign on Saturday when the Bulls face Chris Paul and the Hornets in the bayou.