Fishing for what would have been a momentum-building victory, the Jazz let a big one get away Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah squandered an 81-77 lead in the final 4:58, when ex-Jazz All-Star Carlos Boozer scored 11 points.
The Jazz had a three-game winning streak snapped, mostly because they could not stop Boozer and failed to make Chicago pay for surrounding Al Jefferson on defense.
Jefferson finished with a season-high 32 points, including eight straight early in the fourth quarter.
Once the Bulls decided to double- and triple-team Jefferson, however, the Jazz offense died.
Utah scored only two points during a six-minute stretch of the final quarter, after it had taken a four-point lead.
“They gave [Jefferson] different looks,” said coach Tyrone Corbin. “They wanted to make sure, when he did get the ball, they had different guys [around him].
“They made him work hard to get the ball and, once he got it, they sent another body at him. As a result, he got a few steps off of where he wanted to be.”
Utah’s other players could not take advantage of the attention paid to Jefferson.
As Corbin said, “We didn’t get anything on the weak side.”
Said Jefferson: “Two guys on me and guys fronting me — we’ve just got to take advantage of that.”
Paul Millsap scored 21 points and mostly outplayed Boozer in the head-to-head battle.
Boozer made three of his final four shots, however, and went 5 for 6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:47.
“I’m not sure he’s the guy that beat us,” Millsap said. “They’ve got a whole team, and they did a good job. Down the stretch, he hit a couple of shots and got fouled. But I’m not sure that’s what lost the game for us.”
Said Randy Foye: “They played good basketball.”