Bulls 91, Jazz 86
All the attention was focused on Carlos Boozer as handmade signs shouted ''Whozer?'' and boos rained down on the former Utah Jazz All-Star forward.
When it counted most, two other former Jazz players came up big for the Chicago Bulls in Wednesday night's 91-86 victory over Utah.
''It felt good to hit a big shot,'' said Kyle Korver, who hit a 3-pointer with 2:17 remaining to give the Bulls an 87-83 lead.
Bulls teammate Ronnie Brewer, who was drafted by Utah in 2006, stole the ball from Jazz point guard Deron Willliams with 7.9 seconds left and sank a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
Boozer also had a steal late, but overall had a rough time in his return to Utah. He had a number of his shots blocked and finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
''It was a little bit of everything,'' Boozer said of the nasty reception he received.
''I'm just happy we won. We had two losses in a row. It was a grind-out game that we didn't have a good rhythm for but we just kept fighting, playing hard. Sometimes when you keep grinding, things go your way a little bit.''
Derrick Rose scored 29 points for Chicago. He also had seven assists and three rebounds, and a steal with 1:05 remaining that gave Chicago control of the game.
''He's been playing like that the whole season,'' Boozer said of Rose. ''It's why we keep chanting his name for MVP because he's been phenomenal all year.''
Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 28 points, while Paul Millsap added 20 points and 14 rebounds.
''We were there,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. ''We just couldn't close the door.''
Sloan kept reporters waiting more than half an hour after the game as he met with his assistants and general manager Kevin O'Connor. And the Jazz announced that Thursday's practice had been abruptly canceled.
After a 15-5 start, the Jazz are now 31-23 and have dropped three straight at home.
Asked if it was time for a shake-up, Sloan hedged.
''I don't think there's any great need for panic,'' he said, before adding that his general manager is always evaluating players and moves the team can make. ''We're not looking to trade anybody. We're looking to make our team hopefully better on the floor.''
It didn't help that three former Jazz players came back to haunt Utah.
Boozer was a two-time Western Conference All-Star in Utah, but there were always questions about team chemistry with him in Salt Lake. He made it be known he wanted out, and eventually signed as a free agent with Chicago after last season.
His first game back in Utah elicited the most media attention surrounding the Jazz since the NBA playoffs.
He was booed during introductions and every time he touched the ball.
He also got a rude welcome from Millsap, who blocked his first shot, knocked the ball out of his hands twice in the first four minutes and got Boozer to dribble it off his own foot.
Boozer had just six points at halftime on 3-of-9 shooting. Millsap, meanwhile, was within one rebound of a double-double by halftime with a team-high 13 points.
The Jazz won the rebounding battle 48-41 and outshot the Bulls, but Utah also was only 11 of 21 from the free throw line while the Bulls made 20 of 26.
''When you're down, making a comeback, you have to have almost a perfect finish and we had some good things happen to us but we also had some things we'd like to have back,'' Sloan said.
Notes: Jazz reserve C Mehmet Okur will miss at least three weeks because of a chronic disc problem in his lower back. ... Jazz reserve C Francisco Elson did not play Wednesday because of a inflammation in his left knee. ... The Jazz bench was outscored 25-5. ... University of Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham was in the stands Wednesday. ... The Bulls entered the game as one of only four NBA teams that had not lost more than two in a row this season.