The struggling Utah Jazz hope to begin a turnaround Wednesday when they host the Chicago Bulls in the first contest of a stretch in which they play seven of eight games at home. The Jazz have dropped eight of their past 10 games, including a 107-86 road loss against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
Utah lost All-Star forward Gordon Hayward to free agency in the offseason and has struggled further since losing standout center Rudy Gobert (leg), who will miss his seventh straight game. “We do have to get better,” Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood told reporters. “We’re playing better and we played really well in spots. We just have to build on them.” Chicago is only 1-8 on the road and is 0-2 on a four-game trip after suffering a 103-94 setback to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The Bulls blew a 19-point second-half lead against the Lakers and have lost seven of their last eight games.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN Chicago, ROOT (Utah)
ABOUT THE BULLS (3-12): Kris Dunn was promoted to starting point guard prior to Tuesday’s game and had 12 points and six assists in 32 minutes against the Lakers. The offseason acquisition from the Minnesota Timberwolves is averaging 17 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds over the past three games while impressing coach Fred Hoiberg with his tenacious approach and passion on the defensive end. “They think I could be an elite defender one day, so that’s a challenge I‘m going to take on,” Dunn told reporters of the Chicago coaching staff. “I‘m going to go out there each and every day and try to bring that defensive intensity and bring it to the team. When somebody sees somebody playing hard, it feeds off.”
ABOUT THE JAZZ (7-11): Utah is back at home after a 1-3 road excursion that included a 40-point drubbing of the Orlando Magic on Saturday before the porous showing against Philadelphia two nights later. The fluctuation in those two games was familiar to point guard Ricky Rubio, who is baffled with the sharp ups and downs his new team experiences. “We played some good games, but it wasn’t enough,” Rubio told reporters. “I think we have to learn how to be consistent. We have to find our heart and play with more aggression and more passion. It’s something we have to do.”
1. The Bulls won both of last season’s meetings and have prevailed in three straight matchups.
2. Chicago rookie F Lauri Markkanen was a season-worst 4-of-17 shooting against the Lakers but still had 13 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the campaign.
3. Utah C Derrick Favors, who scored a season-high 25 points against Orlando, averaged 18.5 points, seven rebounds and three blocks against the Bulls last season.
PREDICTION: Jazz 97, Bulls 91