NBA Basketball Spreads and Predictions: Utah Jazz at Chicago Bulls
Friday, March 08, 2013
by Tomas Lopez
The Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls are both fading entering Friday’s contest in Chicago. Utah has lost five of six contests after a late-game collapse in Cleveland on Wednesday and stands just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Chicago was routed by San Antonio on Wednesday and fell to 6-9 since the beginning of February to slip to sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Utah could be without center Al Jefferson (ankle) for the fourth straight game as it seeks to rebound from a horrific loss to the Cavaliers. The Jazz led by eight points with under three minutes to play before Cleveland finished with a 12-1 spurt for a 104-91 victory. "Closing games down, especially without Al out there, we’re so used to going to him to close the games for us and he’s not there," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We’ve got to find a way to get better." The Bulls are hoping point guard Derrick Rose will return in the coming weeks and their recent slump leaves them only a half-game ahead of seventh-place Boston in the East. The Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks have all passed Chicago during its five-week slump.
Utah Jazz (32-29): Point guard Mo Williams returned against Cleveland after missing 32 games with a broken thumb. Williams had eight points and six assists in 27 minutes and missed a layup that would have given Utah the lead with 4.9 seconds remaining. “I’ve never seen a layup come out like that,” Williams said afterward. “That was amazing. I’ve never, ever seen anything like that. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a layup, even in practice.” Struggling forward Marvin Williams was been removed from the starting lineup in favor of DeMarre Carroll, who provides more energy than the inconsistent Williams.
Chicago Bulls (34-27): The overriding theme in Chicago’s 15-game slump is the injuries that have robbed the squad of talent and depth. Guards Richard Hamilton (back) and Kirk Hinrich (foot) and forward Taj Gibson (knee) are all currently sidelined and the Bulls haven’t once had their entire roster healthy all season. “We’ve got to get healthy,” center Joakim Noah said after the 101-83 loss to San Antonio. “You can’t play this game not healthy. We’ve got injuries – it’s no excuse. We’ve got to stick together and keep fighting. It’s frustrating because the potential is there.”
1. The Bulls have won the last four overall meetings and five of the past six played in Chicago.
2. Utah C Enes Kanter is averaging 19.3 points and 13 rebounds in the three games Jefferson has sat out.
3. Bulls G Marco Belinelli has back-to-back 20-point outings after having just once such performance in his previous 33 contests.
NBA Basketball Prediction: Bulls 94, Jazz 89.
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