Jazz-Bulls Preview

With members of the Chicago Bulls’ 1991 championship team in

attendance for a halftime ceremony, the current squad has a chance

to make the night even more special.

The Bulls can grab a share of the Eastern Conference lead with a

win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Chicago (46-18) will mark the 20th anniversary of the

franchise’s first NBA championship during Saturday’s halftime.

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen will be among those on hand to

mark the occasion.

Not since Jordan and Pippen led the Bulls to their last title in

1998 has there been this much excitement in Chicago. The Bulls

pulled within one-half game of conference-leading Boston after a

94-76 win over Atlanta on Friday, their fourth straight win overall

and 10th in a row at home. The Celtics are idle Saturday.

“If us winning games puts us ahead of them, that’ll be great,

but our thing is trying to keep this thing going,” Rose said.

Rose finished with 34 points, including 18 in the third quarter.

He finished just 9 of 24 from the floor, but got to the line 15

times, making 14.

“I was trying to get myself going,” he said. ”If my shot’s not

falling, one thing to do is go to the hole.”

The Bulls were without Carlos Boozer, who is day-to-day with a

sprained left ankle. Luol Deng was also banged up, but played

despite a bruised left thigh also suffered Wednesday. He finished

with 18 points, nine boards and seven assists.

While Chicago said the swelling in Boozer’s ankle has gone down,

the injury could keep him from the rematch against his former team.

He had 14 points and six rebounds in the Bulls’ 91-86 victory over

the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Feb. 9.

“He’s much better today, but he still has a long way to go,”

coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll take a look tomorrow, and we’ll

see how he’s feeling.”

Kurt Thomas started in Boozer’s place Friday and finished with

13 rebounds. He helped the Bulls hold the Hawks to 26 points in the

second half in another dominating defensive effort at home. Chicago

is giving up just 89.0 points per game at the United Center,

including 85.3 during its current winning streak there.

The Bulls have a good chance to continue that against the

slumping Jazz (34-32), who have dropped 10 of 13, a streak that

began with their loss to the Bulls. They fell 122-101 at Minnesota

on Friday.

It was the third-most points allowed this season by Utah, which

gave up a season-worst 131 against New York on Monday. In the last

seven games, the Jazz have allowed 111.3 points per game while

allowing opponents to shoot 50.4 percent from 3-point range.

C.J. Miles said the results could be even uglier Saturday if

things don’t improve quickly.

“We go in there and play like that again, we’re going to lose by

60,” said Miles, who scored 15 points. “I’m just being honest.

“If guys thought this was embarrassing, we go in there like

that, it’s going to be bad.

I-don’t-even-know-how-to-put-it-in-words bad.”

Slowing Rose down could be difficult. He scored 29 points in

last month’s win and is averaging 24.4 points in five career games

against the Jazz.

Utah is in 10th place in the West, two games behind Memphis for

the final playoff spot.