Bulls 95, Jazz 79
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Kirk Hinrich was stumped when asked to remember the last time the Chicago Bulls won on the road. As for winning in a Western Conference city, the rookie point guard could only guess.
The Bulls ended a 26-game game road drought against the Western Conference teams with a 95-79 victory over Utah on Wednesday night.
“It feels good. Our streak out here in the West was getting pretty big,” said Hinrich, who scored 17 for Chicago.
The Bulls last won on the road in the West on March 16, 2002, edging Houston 114-112 in overtime. Hinrich was a junior at Kansas that year and Eddy Curry was a rookie with the Bulls.
Hinrich and Curry looked plenty experienced Wednesday.
Curry had 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists as the Bulls snapped the two-year streak and two others: Chicago had lost five straight overall and nine in a row on the road.
“It’s big for our guys. We’re not hung up on the streak or anything like that. It’s just a big road win for us,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said.
Chicago, which was 0-12 this season in the West, wraps up a seven-game road trip on Friday in Houston. The Bulls know that at least they won’t go winless in the West for the second straight season.
“It was real important for us, especially since we haven’t got a win yet out here,” Curry said. “I feel like we played pretty good the last couple games and it was time for a win.”
Eddie Robinson scored 16 off the bench for Chicago, which had lost 11 of its last 12 against Utah.
The Jazz fell to 24-25, dropping below .500 for the second time this season, and have lost three straight with coach Jerry Sloan stuck at 899 career wins.
“You go out and you think you’re going to have an easy game, and evidently we must have felt that because we never did get to them and guard them,” Sloan said.
Sloan pulled all his starters two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Jazz finished just 30-for-80 from the floor and leading scorer Andrei Kirilenko, who was named to the Western Conference All-Star team Tuesday, finished with eight points, four rebounds and five assists.
The Bulls had been winless on the road since a 104-99 victory at New York on Jan. 2.
“Our defensive efforts have been lacking. It almost seemed like it was getting worse,” Hinrich said. “It’s all we stressed, all we worked on yesterday in practice. It was nice to come out and execute.”
Chicago was 33-for-62 from the field and Hinrich was 4-of-7 from 3-point range. The Bulls led 47-32 at halftime and kept pulling away in the second half. After Kirilenko scored the first points of the period on a layup, Antonio Davis converted a three-point play and Hinrich added two 3-pointers.
Stevenson took a steal in for a dunk to get Utah within 71-52 late in the third quarter, but after the Jazz forced a jump ball, Jerome Williams—who scored 11—tipped it to Curry alone under the basket and Curry made the layup while drawing a foul.
He made the free throw, and the Bulls’ lead was back in the 20s.
The Bulls led comfortably through the final quarter against the Jazzreserves, who fared no better than the starters.
It was retro night for both teams, with the Jazz wearing their 1979-80 uniform design and the Bulls donning their old red ‘Chicago’ jerseys they had until 1985. … Chicago F Scottie Pippen—the only member of the Bulls who played for Chicago in the ’97 and ’98 finals wins over Utah—did not dress because of a sore left knee. … Utah fell to 19-8 at home. … Skiles was fined $7,500 by the NBA for criticizing veteran referee Jess Kersey after aloss to Seattle on Monday.