They are just a better basketball team than we are/ – Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap
CHICAGO — They played an awfully familiar-looking talented team — perhaps the NBA's best — with starters including Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, a Turkish big man and an All-Star point guard.
That, however, is where the comparison ends.
Not surprisingly, the Chicago Jazz had their way with the undermanned and outmatched Utah Jazz.
Familiarity, in this case, bred a whole lot of points and production for the Bulls' three former Utah players in Chicago's 111-97 win at United Center.
"They are just a better basketball team than we are," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said, matter-of-factly.
It didn't help that the Jazz were without two starters for different reasons, with Raja Bell out due to what the team called an "internal matter" and Devin Harris being sidelined with stomach flu.
The Bulls, though, were also down two starters. More importantly on this night, they played with three Utah exports, who might've made watching Jazz fans long for the good-old days of not-so-long ago.
Boozer had a game-high 27 points; Korver fired in six 3-pointers, which had to be painful for Jazz fans to watch swish in, and finished with a season-high 26 points, and Brewer added 11 points, including a late alley-oop dunk.
"They came out and did what they was supposed to do," Millsap said of his former teammates. "You just can't be mad about that."
The Bulls' other starters played their parts well, too. MVP point guard Derrick Rose had 24 points and 13 assists, and big man Omer Asik from Turkey clogged up the paint and blocked two shots.
As a team, the Bulls (34-9) shot 55.8 percent and scored 63 second-half points. When they weren't punishing the Jazz from the post (Boozer), they were killing them from outside (Korver) or slicing them up with sensational speed and athleticism (Rose).
"Offensively, they executed," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You take one thing away, they went to the next thing. They made perimeter shots. They got some inside baskets on us."
Gordon Hayward was impressed with the depth of the Bulls, considering they didn't have either Joakim Noah or Luol Deng available for health reasons.
"They play as a unit. They play as one collective group," Hayward said. "Any time teams decide to do that, they're tough to beat."
Still, Corbin felt good about his team heading into the second half. The game was tied after one quarter, and Utah only trailed 48-41 at halftime.
But the Bulls took complete control early in the third, and hit 12-of-15 shots and outscored the Jazz 31-22 in that pivotal period.
That was the same script the Jazz used while falling big at Philly the previous night.
To rub it in, Brewer scored nine points in that quarter, and his jumper with 4:51 left in the third put Chicago into double-digit lead territory for good.
"The beginning of that third quarter, they took it up another level on us defensively," Corbin said. "They got transition baskets and they made shots on us."
Meanwhile, the Jazz's modge-podge lineup — Earl Watson and Hayward replaced Harris and Bell — struggled to get much of anything going while wrapping up a so-so, five-game road trip with a second blowout loss in a row.
Millsap had a team-high 26 points, Al Jefferson added 16 and Josh Howard chipped in 15. But Utah didn't score more than 22 points in each of the first three quarters as the Bulls did an excellent job of fronting and denying Big Al, sticking with the Jazz's few remaining outside threats and helping each other on rotations.
"Their defensive philosophy, they get at it," Millsap said.
Added Hayward: "They play really well defensively, making things difficult for you. They're active. Every time you drive, they're all rotating."
The Jazz return home to play Detroit on Monday after going 2-3 on this road trip and falling to 19-21 overall.
Corbin didn't pull out the fatigue card to make an excuse for his team, which played its sixth game in nine nights.
"I thought our energy level was good," Corbin said. "They gave everything they had tonight, it just wasn't enough to beat this team on this floor."
Especially not when somebody like Korver is going off like he did.
The sharpshooter, who set an NBA record for 3-point shooting percentage in his final season with Utah two years ago, drilled 6-of-11 from beyond the arc.
"He obviously can shoot. It's difficult," Hayward said. "He's running off those screens. (With) Derrick Rose handling the ball, you never know when he wants to take it all the way himself. So we're just trying to run and chase him. (Korver) was able to get a lot of open looks tonight, and you can't give them that. They're too good for that."
Millsap, one of only two current players who played in Utah with Korver, saw many times what can happen when the sharpshooter gets his confidence and rhythm going like happened against the Jazz.
"It seemed like he couldn't miss tonight," Millsap said of Korver, who also had seven rebounds and six assists, even a block. "It's great for him. I'm just mad we couldn't get this win tonight for us."