For as well as the Chicago Bulls have played at home this season, they still have some trouble when Western Conference teams visit the United Center.
Chicago (23-17) will try to change that by winning a third consecutive game over a Western foe when it hosts the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
The Bulls are 17-5 at the United Center this season, but only 4-4 at home against teams from the West. Chicago is 5-10 overall this season versus Western opponents, and its struggles are nothing new.
The Bulls were 11-19 against the conference, and 6-9 at home in 2005-06. However, they could have some momentum after posting home wins against Memphis and San Antonio in the last week.
Utah (26-14), though, is 12-10 on the road and 10-6 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Jazz have lost two straight and three of their last four at the United Center.
The Bulls will try for a fourth consecutive win after a 99-90 victory at Milwaukee on Wednesday. Chicago is allowing 81.0 points in its last three games, far better than its 94.2 season average.
Chicago struggled most of the game, as evidenced by 22 turnovers, but used a 20-3 second-half run and outscored the Bucks 32-17 in the fourth quarter.
“It was not a beautiful game, that’s for sure,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “We kept saying the whole game we were doing a good job of turning them over, but on many occasions we kept giving it right back to them.”
Andres Nocioni had his best game of the eight that he’s come off the bench this season, scoring 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Ben Gordon scored 20 points in his third straight game as a starter. The team’s leading-scorer at 21.0 points per game, Gordon has scored 20 or more points in seven straight games. Gordon also had 35 points in Chicago’s 109-107 overtime loss at Utah on Feb. 6 in the teams’ most recent meeting.
Bulls center Ben Wallace was back in the lineup after missing two games with a sore lower back. He had 10 rebounds and three points.
“He looked OK,” Skiles said. “He seemed to move around well. This will be a little tricky here. I’m hoping that’s the end of it.”
Utah has won two straight after a four-game losing streak. The Jazz can finish 3-1 on their four-game road trip with a win Saturday.
Center Mehmet Okur continues to play well on the trip as he had 27 points Friday in a 102-94 win at Toronto. Okur, who is averaging 17.0 points on the season, is averaging 29.0 in his last three games.
Carlos Boozer had 23 points and matched a season high with 19 rebounds Friday for his 30th double-double of the season.
Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who had complained about his role on the team recently, had eight points, with six assists and five rebounds. He met his season average with nine points, along with seven rebounds and four assists, in a 100-99 win at Detroit on Wednesday.
“It’s a 100 percent difference. When you see that your needed on the floor it’s another business,” Kirilenko said. “I don’t think I ask a lot. I didn’t ask for shots. I never said I needed shots. I need touches, that’s different. I think the last two games you see the difference.”