The Utah Jazz went into halftime up 60-53 over the Chicago Bulls, getting there via the kind of all-around basketball that carried the team to a 10-3 start to the year. Lauri Markkanen had 24 points at halftime and the team had 17 assists on 24 made field goals. Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton led the way in playmaking, dishing out five and four assists, respectively.
Cut to the 4:56 mark of the third quarter and the Bulls took their first lead (74-73) since being up 31-30, a gap spanning 17:54 of game time. The Jazz would never retake the lead they held for nearly 18 minutes and ultimately fell 114-107.
That’s not to say the Jazz didn’t make a game of this contest, even though Chicago would build that one-point lead into a 12-point lead at its largest. Utah fought back to come within four points 98-94. At that point, though, the Jazz went up against a tough call from the referees.
DeMar DeRozan attempted a mid-range jump shot with Lauri Markkanen guarding him. Markkanen challenged the veteran guard’s shot which missed but officials called a foul on the Finnish forward. Replay showed the call was a bit iffy and Will Hardy challenged the call.
After a bit of a lengthy review, the verdict came back: foul on Markkanen. Hardy was naturally a bit on the surprised side.
That turned momentum back in favor of Chicago and gave the Bulls a 100-94 lead instead of giving Utah a chance to close within one (realistic) possession.
But even that turn of events didn’t fully stop the Jazz in their efforts for a comeback. They drew even closer than the earlier four points by bringing the game to 102-99 with 5:26 left in the game. Perhaps the Jazz could have closed the gap further but they allowed a 8-1 Bulls run that included Sexton committing a clear path foul which gave Chicago free throws and the ball in the middle of that run.
Numerous small factors led to Utah’s demise. For one, the team turned the ball over far too much compared to its opponents. The Jazz had 14 giveaways next to the Bulls’ seven. Utah also shot just 6-for-15 on free throws with Chicago going 22-of-25 from the charity stripe.
DeMar DeRozan’s resurgence in the second half also aided the comeback. He went just 1-for-7 in the first half with just four points scored. DeRozan finished the night with 26 points.
Markkanen led the Jazz with 32 points. Kelly Olynyk spurred the comeback effort almost by himself, scoring 23 second-half points which was also his final total. Clarkson went cold on the night, shooting just 3-for-15 with eight points but nine assists. Sexton had 17 points and six assists.
Utah is now 2-8 over its last 10 games, free-falling from first place in the Western Conference to now outside the top eight.