A trip to Utah to face the woeful Jazz couldn’t come at a better time for the Chicago Bulls, who desperately need something positive after a dismal week. The Bulls have lost three straight and are reeling from the news that star point guard Derrick Rose will need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Things have been even worse for the Jazz, who have lost six straight and own the worst record in the NBA.
Chicago seemed shell-shocked in a 121-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, but once the shock wears off, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau believes his team will be able to right the ship. Chicago made the playoffs the past two seasons despite having Rose for only 39 games in 2011-12 and playing without him all of last season. “This is year No. 3 now, so we’ve got experience doing it,” Thibodeau told reporters. “But we’ve got to get the fight. … The core of the team in there is the same core we had last year.” The Bulls have won six straight in the series, including a 97-73 blowout Nov. 8 in Chicago.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBA TV, WGN (Chicago), ROOT (Utah)
ABOUT THE BULLS (6-6): Chicago thrives on its defense and has held opponents to 81 or fewer points in five of its six wins. The Bulls held the Jazz to 29.2 percent shooting in the first meeting, but the defensive intensity has been absent on the road, as they’ve allowed opponents to shoot 43.8 percent while going 1-6 away from home. Chicago will have to be especially stingy with only two healthy players averaging double-digit scoring - Luol Deng (16.3) and Carlos Boozer (16).
ABOUT THE JAZZ (1-14): Utah’s woes at the offensive end continued in a 95-73 loss at Oklahoma City on Sunday, as no starters scored in double figures. The Jazz actually have five players averaging double digits, but they don’t have a go-to guy and don’t get much from the bench. They recently got first-round pick Trey Burke back from finger surgery, but the point guard hasn’t made much of an impact in his first three games, averaging 6.7 points and 2.7 assists.
1. Utah has scored fewer than 90 points in nine of its 15 games.
2. Jazz C Enes Kanter suffered a sprained ankle against the Thunder but X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated Monday morning.
3. Chicago is also without SG Jimmy Butler, who is sidelined indefinitely with turf toe.
PREDICTION: Bulls 93, Jazz 89