CHICAGO – Nobody said victories would be pretty anymore.
Pretty first left the building when Derrick Rose lay in a crumpled heap last April 28, his left ACL snapped. Throw in injuries to rotation regulars Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Taj Gibson and the need for grittiness intensifies.
The Bulls delivered Friday night at the United Center, overcoming a dismal offensive showing in the second half to post an 89-88 victory over the Jazz on Marco Belinelli’s game-winning 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left.
Gordon Hayward’s open look at the buzzer rimmed out, helping the Bulls avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season.
Belinelli, who tied Carlos Boozer for team-high honors with 22 points, had missed two wild runners after Al Jefferson pushed the Jazz ahead with a jumper over Joakim Noah with 51.6 seconds left. But Jimmy Butler came out of a scramble with Belinelli’s second miss and fed him in the corner, directly in front of the Bulls’ bench.
“I just got a good look,” Belinelli said. “We didn’t play well in the second half, but we pulled it out.”
It’s Belinelli’s third game-winning shot of the season. The Bulls played again without Rose, Hinrich, Hamilton and Gibson.
Beyond all the injuries, foul trouble limited Noah to 32 minutes and forced Nazr Mohammed to log a season-high 20. Mohammed responded with nine points and seven rebounds, but the Jazz hung with the Bulls rebounding-wise and posted a 21-18 edge in second-chance points.
After a sizzling 51.3 percent shooting performance in the first half, the Bulls sank just 10 of 42 shots after halftime for 23.8 percent. The Jazz used a 10-0 run to go up 81-76 early in the fourth as the Bulls went scoreless for 3:43.
“You’re going to face adversity at different times,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of the widespread injuries. “You have to respond. That’s the challenge we face. We know if we do the right things, we’ll have a chance.”
Thibodeau said it’s unlikely Hamilton will accompany the Bulls on their three-game trip beginning Sunday in Los Angeles. Hinrich and Gibson will join the team when it departs Saturday afternoon following practice, but both are unlikely to play Sunday against the Lakers.