CHICAGO — Effort and intensity wasn’t an issue. The Utah Jazz put up a fight until the end Wednesday night at the United Center.
It was the small things that resulted in Utah's fourth-straight loss.
Defense. Decision-making. Contesting shots and not fouling near the end of quarters.
Those key details are how the Chicago Bulls defeated the Jazz 103-100.
“We’re not a good enough team to be able to overcome some of those moments where we either lack urgency or focus,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “There’s too many of those moments in the game unless we shoot the ball really well but that’s not going to be the formula for us.”
It also didn’t help that Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic filled in as a starter for rookie Lauri Markkanen, who didn’t play due to back spasms, and chipped in a season-high 29 points and nine boards — with 13 points in the third.
He connected on 11 of 18 attempts while hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers.
Bulls guard Kris Dunn nailed a clutch 17-foot step back jumper with 22 seconds remaining en route to finishing with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds to seal the game.
“My team believes in me,” Dunn said. “I want to be that guy down the stretch. I want to make those plays. The coaching staff, they believe in me and I just try to go in there and make the shots.”
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was aggressive from tipoff with 10 first-quarter points and he added a dozen in the third, including a one-handed driving dunk that drew cheers, even in the away arena.
He finished with a game-high 32 points and six assists. But even with his third game of 30 or more points, Mitchell refuses to get too high or low off individual performances anymore — especially losses.
“You can’t dwell on this one at all. That’s one thing I’m starting to learn,” Mitchell said. “I took losses pretty hard in college and we didn’t lose much in high school so understanding it’s a long season and we’re not even 30 games in so we have a long way to go so we’ve just got to keep working on our defense and who we are as a team.”
Chicago’s big men were impressive as Mirotic and Robin Lopez combined for 24 points and eight rebounds at halftime to help the Bulls hold a 49-48 lead heading into the locker room. Lopez finished with 16 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert combined for just eight points on 4-of-10 shooting but did grab 21 boards as they continue to figure out how to play with each other since Gobert’s return from his knee injury.
Ricky Rubio made five of the team’s 16 turnovers but did add 14 points and four assists while matching up against Dunn, who was feisty on defense and finished with four steals.
“We all gotta focus on the little things,” Gobert said. “Everything, boxing out, spacing, communication … all those are the little things that make us better. We gotta play 48 minutes.”
Rodney Hood made his return after missing the last seven games with ankle tendon soreness and dropped 15 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
The Bulls (7-20) have now won four straight games while the Jazz (13-15) will look to end their four-game drought in Boston Friday. Utah is now 2-10 on the road.
“I think we could’ve got some loose balls, more 50-50 balls, we could’ve got some offensive rebounds,” said Favors. “Kept them off the boards. They hit some tough shots.”