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JAZZ SEEK 7TH STRAIGHT ROAD WIN TONIGHT

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Considering the several thousand miles traveled and the need to live out of suitcases, this road trip hasn't been too unkind to the Utah Jazz yet.

For their first game, they arrived in Minneapolis a day ahead of the home-team Timberwolves, who played the night before in Atlanta.Then they got the advantage (a big one, the players say) of taking a charter flight to Maryland in time to rest up for Thursday night's game against the Bullets.

And now they're in Chicago, having arrived Friday for a Saturday game, while the Bulls had to play Friday night in Atlanta.

The Jazz, naturally, downplay any hint of good fortune here. If they did that, it would jinx everything.

"After the first quarter, no one remembers who is tired," said Jazz assistant coach Gordon Chiesa.

They may not remember, but there's evidence it has an impact. Otherwise, why wouldn't teams win more games on back-to-back nights?

The Jazz are 2-0 on this trip and have won six straight road games, tying them for the franchise record. The victory over Washington moved them into a virtual tie with Houston for first place in the Midwest Division, just percentage points behind the Rockets. Over the past 10 games, the Jazz's 7-3 record is the best in the Midwest.

After this, the schedule gets a little tougher. The Jazz play in Milwaukee on Sunday, and the Bucks haven't played since Wednesday. "Milwaukee's waiting for us," Chiesa said.

The final two opponents for Utah are two teams that have been improving, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

As for the Bulls, they have had one two-game win streak, one two-game loss streak, and the rest of the season has been a win-one, lose-one affair. They are 10-9 overall, 5-4 at home, 5-5 away (before Friday) - a picture of mediocrity that has some Bulls frustrated. Scottie Pippen, who was around during the glory years, said the Bulls' mystique is gone.

"I think people's expectations are not as high as they have been in the past, and it's because we're not that talented of a team," Pippen said. "So you lose all that notoriety and mystique and all the great things that come along with it."

Like victories. And the Bulls are not only losing half their games, they're letting games slip away that they should have won.

That wasn't the case when the Jazz and Bulls met in Salt Lake City, however. That was the last game of a six-game road trip for Chicago, and they predictably failed to show up. The Jazz drubbed them by 30.