Bulls-Jazz: Utah Lets Confusion Reign as Bulls Run Rampant
It seemed like an ominous sign.
Before the ball was even tipped off, the refs had to pull everyone back and send them to their benches.
The shot clock at one end of the floor was not working. Try as they might, the technicians could not get the clock to work, so they shut off both clocks and Dan Roberts, the Jazz public address announcer, was forced to count down the shot clock in intervals, as well as give score and time when the main clock broke down as well.
Similarly, it seemed the Jazz broke down early in the game as Chicago came out firing, content to get into an outside shooting contest in the first quarter instead of pounding it inside, which worked to perfection later in the game.
They also failed to contain Derrick Rose in the final period, who cut up the woeful Jazz defense brilliantly in the final minutes of the game and scored eight points in the final three minutes.
Give all the credit in the world to the Bulls, who despite playing the night before and having a horrid circus trip at 1-3, came out much more energized than their counterparts.
The Jazz were completely out of sync for stretches in the game, and two plays epitomized their confusion.
On one play when Ronnie Price came down court, he kept motioning for C.J. Miles to cut baseline to the side where he and Mehmet Okur were, presumably to have him work the ball in to Memo in the post. Miles looked lost and unsure and, eventually, Price was forced to wave him off when he finally tried to cut and work a two man with Okur.
On the defensive end, one time it looked as though Okur and Paul Millsap were arguing over who was supposed to guard Drew Gooden. Unfortunately, before either ran to him, the ball was thrown to Gooden who hit an uncontested jumper.
In fact, it seemed that for stretches at a time, the players weren't sure who they were supposed to man up on as they came down the floor and were taking a man only after conversing about it.
Though Sloan doesn't want to hear it and was venomous when the question was asked, the loss of consistency due to injuries may be taking its toll. Last year, when players knew their roles, you never saw this type of confusion on the floor.
However, as Sloan is quick to point out, you can't use that as an excuse to not play hard. You have to play hard every night. You can't just complain about not having players. You're being paid to compete every night. Now, with multiple people riding the pine, Sloan is looking for anyone to come in and just provide a spark.
For the first half, only Memo seemed to truly have it going. He had 16 points in the half and was single-handedly keeping the Jazz afloat in a half where the Jazz looked like they were there to practice while the Bulls came there to play. The Jazz shot only 43 percent in that half, while the Bulls shot what they would shoot for the night: 50 percent.
For one quarter, all that changed. The Jazz played with the hustle they've showed at times and did it at both ends of the floor. The Jazz erased a nine-point halftime deficit and turned it into an eight-point lead before settling back down to three at the end of three. They forced turnovers, they ran the break, the crowd might have even gotten in the Bulls head a little.
The Bulls rallied though, bringing their shooting back over 50 percent again as they tickled the nets time and time again. Then it became a shootout and defense became an afterthought as both teams seemed to get whatever shot they wanted from the floor. It culminated when Ronnie Brewer, on a miss by Okur, fed Miles and the Jazz led by one, 100-99.
Unfortunately, with 11 seconds to go, it was a second too much time. Derrick Rose took a shot with 2.7 seconds remaining, the shot missed, but the ball bounced out to Larry Hughes, who took a 22-foot shot at the buzzer and nailed it, stunning the raucous EnergySolutions crowd into shocked silence. The refs reviewed the play, the shot was counted good, and the Jazz dropped their first at home.
The Jazz, who were already the walking wounded, lost Matt Harpring before the game to a back injury in practice and Brevin Knight left the game with 8:30 to play.
It was almost fitting that the shot clock was broken down, the lights off all game. After all, the Bulls did the same to the Jazz.
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