The Bulls started off with an explosive first half, but fell apart in the third period and early fourth to let the Jazz take the lead. However, in crunch time, Carlos Boozer delivered for Chicago while Al Jefferson, who'd dominated all game, was held scoreless for the final nine minutes.
It wasn't a dominant 11 points, Boozer hit a couple of layups based on bad rotations and just crashed into the paint like a bulldozer to draw a bunch of fouls. Still, Boozer delivered, scoring 11 straight points for the Bulls taking them from a deficit to a lead down the stretch. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng knocked down five of six free throws to ice the game (Noah knocking down the most important two and Deng missing one which was more or less meaningless).
The Jazz kept trying to go into Jefferson in the paint where he dominated almost all game long, however, the Bulls switched to a hard double team on Jefferson when he received the ball down low and forced him to give up the ball or take terrible shots. No one else on the Jazz could make anything happen, and the Bulls defense delivered down the stretch. Nice adjustments and nice play by the Bulls to close out the game.
Chicago finished off its six game road trip at three and three which isn't a bad haul for a team playing without three starters (not counting Rose) at times and playing with Boozer/Noah obviously still hurt at other times. We've complained about the Bulls depth for much of the season, but this team has pulled through some games while missing four guys who will be heavy in the rotation come playoff time.
The biggest problem facing Chicago right now is the status of Joakim Noah whom admitted after the game that the plantar fasciitis in his foot isn't any better after resting a week. The Bulls should do the smart thing here and shut him down. Vinnie Del Negro was effectively choked out for not shutting Noah down in a similar situation a few years back, so it's mind boggling that the front office isn't stepping in at this point.
I get that Noah wants to be out there. I get that Thibs will play anyone an unlimited amount of minutes that says he's good to go. So far, the Bulls have been incredibly lucky to not have worse injury problems than they've had given how much Thibodeau is willing to overwork players coming back from injury. Again, the Bulls management literally choked their head coach for doing this kind of thing once.
Thibodeau has some serious teflon going on if this isn't an issue with management. At some point, you have to look at the upside of Noah playing through this vs sitting out. If Noah were to rest now, he'd miss only three games in the next 12 days (assuming he is willing to sit out of the all star game which maybe isn't a safe assumption, but even if he plays it will be minimal minutes).
Chicago may lose one additional game if they rest Noah over that stretch, but if they're thinking about championships instead of seeding then they have to realize that they're not going anywhere deep in the playoffs with a hobbled Joakim Noah. There's no better time to rest him than right now with the all-star break giving him some extra time off.