CHICAGO — The NBA is a game of runs, as you might've heard coaches, players and broadcasters say a time or two million. To that point, it's usually not that big of a deal when a team falls behind early, even if by double digits.
That didn't turn out to be the case Saturday night at the United Center.
The Utah Jazz, who were so brilliant defensively at home against Phoenix and Cleveland earlier this week, had no answers for the Chicago Bulls early and could never recover.
The result was a 92-85 loss for the Jazz against the Bulls, an outcome that snapped Utah's four-game winning streak and put the team a full game out of the final playoff spot.
Utah's five-game road trip continues Sunday night in Milwaukee.
"We weren't ready for this game," Jazz coach Quin Snyder lamented. "The way it started, they jumped out to a big lead and that difference at the start was the difference at the end.
"We didn't dig in. We didn't have it. They made the shots; we didn't."
The Bulls made all of the shots in the first four and a half minutes, scoring on their first seven possessions on the same amount of attempts.
Jimmy Butler finally missed a shot — an 8-foot jumper — at the 7:28 mark of the first quarter, but less than a minute later Derrick Rose hit a step-back shot to put the Bulls up 17-6.
"I wouldn't say it was too much on our offense," Jazz point guard Shelvin Mack said. "Its hard to win any kind of basketball game when the other team started off seven for seven."
The Jazz, who only shot 40.7 percent and eight of 27 from deep, never got any closer than within six points after that early rough stretch.
"I think we played well defensively except for the first six minutes of the first quarter where they hit their first seven field goals," Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward said. "It's just something where if we are not scoring the ball a lot, it's putting a lot of pressure on our defense."
The fact that Hayward returned after missing the past two games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot was positive, but he could not find a groove. His first two shots: an airballed 3-pointer and a missed open layup.
"It felt fine out there," Hayward said while soaking his injured foot in a bucket of ice water. "We didn't have a good shooting night tonight, struggled a little bit early defensively, but it felt fine."
The loss spoiled a big night for Derrick Favors, who scored 24 points with six rebounds and two blocks. Mack (15 points, eight assists, five boards) and Rodney Hood (14 points) were the only other Jazz players in double figures.
"You have nights where you make every shot you take and you have nights where you miss a lot of shots," Favors said. "I think that was just the case tonight we missed a lot of shots."
The Bulls, led by Rose's 22 points, shot 48.8 percent from the field despite only scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter. Rose looked like his old MVP self, making 10 of 15 shots, including both 3-point attempts he took.
"Hes a tough, tough guy to guard," Mack said, "especially when hes knocking down threes and jumpshots."
The Jazz, meanwhile, only scored 19 points in the first quarter and 18 in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert struggled and didn't make much of an impact, scoring only two points with seven rebounds.
"Fav was very good around the basket. Overall, we did not do a good job finishing at the rim," Snyder said. "It was a tough night for us shooting the ball. We have to play beter and we can play better. We just didn't tonight."
Still, the Jazz pulled crawled to within six in the final minute. Utah even had the ball with a chance to make things really interesting, but reserve Chris Johnson, a terrific defender but a subpar shooter, missed a 3-point attempt to end the comeback bid.
"We went off Gordon. We had him and CJ opened up with a shot. That's a shot he's got to take," Snyder said. "If he passes it up, we're likely not going to get a better one. In a perfect world, Gordon gets that shot or Rodney. They know that too. They want to take that away, and Chris had an open look and he missed it."
Snyder complimented Hayward for playing through his ongoing injury.
"He's been a warrior all year," Snyder said. "Tonight he was a little off. Butler played good defense on him. I thought he handled himself well. We were just not very efficient offensively tonight."
Favors suffered with the same issue and missed a handful of games in 2012, so he knows what Hayward is dealing with.
"I feel his pain. I had plantar fasciitis before," Favors said. "I know exactly what hes going through, but hes a tough player, a tough guy. He came out and gave us all he had."