What's buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Belinelli rewards Bulls with game-winner over Jazz

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Marco Belinelli has found a knack for knocking down game-winning shots. On Friday, he scored a go-ahead basket with less than 10 seconds remaining for the third time this season. His corner 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left lifted the Chicago Bulls to a tense 89-88 victory over Utah at the United Center.

Belinelli's basket answered a tie-breaking jumper by Jazz center Al Jefferson with 51.6 seconds remaining. The go-ahead play began with a wild miss by Belinelli, but after the ball bounced off about six players, Chicago's Jimmy Butler finally won the battle for the offensive rebound and found Belinelli open in the corner.

"I was ready to shoot the ball," Belinelli said. "I think we were lucky and Jimmy got a great rebound, so he did a good job to find me in the corner. I scored the ball, but I think the best move, Jimmy made there."

Earlier this season, Belinelli threw in a short jumper while falling backward with 3.1 seconds left at Boston and hit a lay-in off a miraculous save by teammate Joakim Noah with 7.5 seconds left against Detroit.

"Especially right now, they have a lot of confidence in me," added Belinelli, who is starting in place of an injured Richard Hamilton. "So I just try to go on the court and play hard. It was a big shot for me, but that was a team win."

On Utah's final possession, Gordon Hayward shook loose from Belinelli, but missed a 17-foot jumper just before time expired.

Belinelli and Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 22 points each. Nate Robinson scored 14 points, while center Joakim Noah survived foul trouble to pull down 13 rebounds.

Jefferson, back in the lineup after a three-game absence with a left ankle sprain, led Utah with 23 points. Marvin Williams added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Heading into this contest, Utah had lost five of its previous six games and held a precarious one-and-a-half game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Jazz have now lost three straight road games by a combined five points. Utah also dropped close calls in Milwaukee and Cleveland.

"It's frustrating. We're disappointed," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But we understand this is part of the journey. We have to understand what it takes to get over the hump. If we don't stay together and keep working, it's not going to happen."

Corbin thinks his team has enough mental toughness to survive this string of late-game losses.

"This has been a great group of guys, great character," he said. "We'll continue to work. Everybody's disappointed in three losses on this road trip. We could have easily been 3-0 on the trip. But we can't get them back, so we'll continue to work and get better."

After trailing by as many as nine points, Utah took a 77-76 lead with 8:16 remaining on a jumper by Enes Kanter. The Jazz didn't stop there, adding a pair of free throws and a post hook from Derrick Favors to boost the lead to five points.

Chicago responded with an 8-2 run. After the Bulls grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds, Belinelli drained an open 3-pointer to send his team ahead 84-83 with 5:04 left.

Jefferson knocked down a jumper to put the Jazz back on top, Luol Deng made two free throws, then Jefferson hit 1 of 2 at the line to tie the score at 86-86 with 2:59 left.

Both teams had several failed possessions before Jefferson put the Jazz ahead in the final minute.

"I don't know why we're losing, but I like the way we're playing," Jefferson said. "With a couple of bounces, we could be 3-0 on this trip."

Neither side kept control of this one for long, other than late in the second quarter when the Bulls pulled out to a nine-point advantage. Chicago got inside the paint for a few layups, then Boozer drained a jumper and Nazr Mohammed added a pair of free throws to complete a 10-4 run and the Bulls had a 55-46 lead at intermission.

Utah recovered quickly in the third quarter, with Jefferson scoring the team's first six points before a reverse lay-in by Marvin Williams brought the Jazz within 57-54.

NOTES: Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau didn't have much reaction to a report that injured Bulls star Derrick Rose has been medically cleared to return to game action, but doesn't feel ready. Rose had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last year on May 15. "It's nothing new," Thibodeau said. "He's doing everything there is to do in practice. He's been cleared from that standpoint." ... Point guard Mo Williams started his second game after missing 32 with a right thumb injury. ... The Bulls once again played without Kirk Hinrich (sore right foot), Taj Gibson (left knee sprain) and Richard Hamilton (sore back). Thibodeau said Hamilton might not join the team on next week's three-game California trip. ... When the Bulls won at Utah 93-89 on Feb. 8, it was the first win by an Eastern Conference team in Salt Lake City in more than a year.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Basketball
View Comments (4)