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Aaron Falk and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm

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Bulls want defense to return against Jazz

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau was known as the architect of Boston's defense during the Celtics' recent run of NBA championship contention.

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Thibodeau was hired by the Bulls before the start of this season and brought the same demand for defense to Chicago that he preached in Boston.

Heading into Wednesday night's Jazz-Bulls game at EnergySolutions Arena, that's why Thibodeau has been upset with the Bulls' play lately.

After holding opponents to less than 100 points in 23 straight games, Chicago comes to Utah after a 101-90 loss at Golden State and a 109-103 loss at Portland.

Asked what the Bulls must do to beat the Jazz, Thibodeau said, "The big thing is the defense. We have to change it. And again, we've played defense well for most of the year.

"[But] the last two games we've made it strictly an offensive contest. I actually like our offense a lot right now. We're scoring well. But we're not guarding and we can't win on the road like that."

Thibodeau takes pride in his team's defense, which is something he did not see in the losses to the Warriors and Trail Blazers.

"The way we play defense is five guys tied together," he said. "So if one guy is breaking down and not fulfilling his responsibility, everybody is going to look bad. ... We have to get back to being a multiple effort team and we have to have everybody tied together."

Against the Bulls, Portland shot 51.5 percent from the field and got to the free-throw line 40 times.

Said Thibodeau: "... Our pick-and-roll defense wasn't great. Our low-post defense wasn't great. Our catch-and-shoot defense wasn't great. We pretty much covered it all."

Despite the back-to-back losses and early injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls down the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

According to Thibodeau, however, their defense needs a quick upgrade for them to stay close to Boston and Miami.

"The last two or three games, it hasn't been up to par and, before it becomes a trend, we want to change it," Thibodeau said.

"... The important thing is when we study the last 10 [games] -- when we do do those things -- we put ourselves in position to win. So we know what we have to do. We just have to get back to doing it. We're not playing with the same edge as we had earlier and we've got to get that edge back."

Of course, this game will be Boozer's return to Utah after playing six seasons for the Jazz.

Asked what he has noticed about his new teammate, Chicago point guard Derrick Rose said, "Leadership. Someone who has been helping us throughout the year. Talking to us on the court. Letting us know where everybody is, especially defensively. Just a lot of energy."

-- Steve Luhm



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