Jazz 100, Bulls 95
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Playing with five fouls, Mehmet Okur had to be careful on defense for most of the fourth quarter.
Okur scored 12 of Utah’s final 14 points in a 100-95 victory over the Bulls on Monday, making the Jazz 3-1 since they lost leading scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer for up to a month.
It was Utah’s third straight victory and Okur has led the Jazz in scoring each time.
“I missed a few shots earlier, but my teammates have confidence in my shot so they kept giving it to me,” Okur said.
Okur, who was honored as Western Conference player of the week earlier in the day, finished with 20 points, scoring 15 in the second half.
Deron Williams had 18 points and 13 assists, and Derek Fisher scored 19 points for the Jazz, including two free throws with 7.7 seconds left for Utah’s only points down the stretch that didn’t come from Okur.
“We know he can make shots. That’s why if we can, we try to get him the ball,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Okur.
Chicago took 47 free throws to Utah’s 31, but the Bulls missed 10 times from the line and couldn’t stop Okur at the end.
“In my mind, he’s definitely one of the most clutch players in the league,” said Ben Gordon, who scored 11 for Chicago. “As a team, we’ve just got to keep the ball out of his hands in those situations.”
Hinrich scored 11 in the third quarter, keeping the Bulls in it after Utah went up 63-47 on a shot by Okur. Hinrich made a 3-pointer, then Gordon hit a jumper to cut Utah’s lead to 63-52.
In the fourth, Utah’s foul trouble got worse when Okur was called for his fifth with 8:07 left to play. The Jazz were already without Boozer, and Andrei Kirilenko went to the locker room with an ice pack on his back midway through the period.
But after a few minutes on the bench, Sloan had to take his chances with Okur’s foul situation. Okur hit a 22-footer with 3:33 left to play, starting his 12-point run.
“He’s being unbelievable this year,” Harpring said. “I know he’s rolling and hopefully we can just keep giving him the ball.”
Duhon made back-to-back 3-pointers for the Bulls and the second got Chicago within 93-80 with 1:19 left in the game. Williams brought the ball back up for Utah and once he stepped inside the arc, he passed it right back out to Okur, who hit from 26 feet to put Utah back up by six.
“You have to have players who have the ability to get someone the ball,” Sloan said. “They switch on (Williams) and Memo has a smaller guy on him. That’s the way basketball is. You gamble on one thing and something else comes up.”
Okur followed his big 3 with another shot that bounced off the rim and in with 26 seconds left to just about seal it.
The Jazz were 12-for-19 (63 percent) in the second quarter. … Okur finished with five fouls while Ben Wallace, his former teammate in Detroit, was called for one. … Wallace had 11 rebounds for the Bulls. … Sloan was called for a technical with 5:51 left in the game. … Kirilenko is day-to-day with back spasms. … The Jazz are 15 games over .500 for the first time this season.