Utah (40-22) at Chicago (31-31)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Tue Mar 9, 2010
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Playing away from Salt Lake City has given the Utah Jazz problems in the past, but that hasn’t been the case lately.

If the offense continues to perform at its current clip, the team shouldn’t have much trouble on this four-game trip, either.

Closing in on first place in the Northwest Division, the Jazz look to build on another strong offensive performance Tuesday night when they visit the Chicago Bulls, who try to avoid losing five in a row for the first time in 3 1/2 months.

Utah (40-22) boasts the league’s best home record since the start of the 2006-07 season at 126-30, but it has been another story on the road, as the team ranks 12th at 67-85.

The Jazz again struggled on the road early this season, losing 12 of their first 19 away from Salt Lake City, before turning things around.

Utah has won eight of 10 road games to move into fourth place in the Western Conference and pull within 1 1/2 games of Northwest-leading Denver. With eight of their next 12 on the road, the Jazz know they’ll need to continue to play at a high level away from Utah to improve their chances of opening a playoff series at home.

“They’re all important right now with where we’re at and the teams we’re competing with for the second, third and fourth seeds,” Kyle Korver(notes) said after Saturday’s 107-85 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. “You can’t slip up at all in home games or road games.”

Mehmet Okur(notes) had a game-high 27 points against the Clippers to lead the Jazz to their third win in four games. Utah’s offense has keyed this stretch, averaging 118.7 points in those victories.

The Jazz had a similar impressive offensive display in their first meeting of the season with the Bulls, a 105-86 home win Nov. 26. Utah shot 60.8 percent, as Carlos Boozer(notes) had 28 points on 12 of 14 shooting, while Deron Williams(notes) scored 21 on 9 of 11 from the field.

Utah has lost four of five at the United Center, but the Bulls (31-31) have been scuffling lately.

After winning six of seven to move into sixth place in the East, Chicago has dropped four in a row and now has just a half-game lead over ninth-place Charlotte for the conference’s final playoff spot.

“The team needs to find a way to win games,” Derrick Rose(notes) said after Saturday’s 122-116 loss to Dallas. “It is frustrating.”

Rose had 34 points against the Mavericks, and is averaging 27.6 points on 55.7 percent shooting in the last five games, but offense hasn’t been Chicago’s problem.

Joakim Noah(notes), the team’s leading rebounder and top defensive player in the post, sat out his fourth straight game Saturday with plantar fasciitis, and his absence clearly shows. The Bulls, who haven’t dropped five straight since November, have allowed an average of 110.8 points and have been outrebounded by an average of 7.5 boards during the skid.

While Noah is expected to miss another two weeks, Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said after Saturday’s game the swelling in the left knee that has bothered Luol Deng(notes) has gone down a bit and that Kirk Hinrich(notes) (sprained right ankle) is feeling better.

Deng, who had six points on 2 of 8 shooting Saturday, scored a team-high 26 against the Jazz on Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, Mar 9