With Richard Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson out with injuries and Derrick Rose still not ready to return, the Bulls have to scrap for everything they get these days. On Friday, it was just enough.
Despite losing a nine-point halftime lead and shooting 24 percent (10-for-42) in the second half, the Bulls rallied to beat the Utah Jazz 89-88 on Marco Belinelli's three-point shot from the corner with 5.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter before a sellout crowd of 21,842 at the United Center.
Belinelli scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Carlos Boozer added 22 points and 10 rebounds. Joakim Noah had nine points and 13 rebounds as the Bulls improved to 35-27 heading into a three-game West Coast swing against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, beginning Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center.
Nate Robinson scored 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting (1-of-8 on three-pointers), with seven assists. And Nazr Mohammed added nine points and seven rebounds in a 20-minute stint off the bench.
''We just hung in there,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''It was a choppy game. Joakim got in foul trouble. We played Nate a lot of straight minutes, so Marco got some time at the point. We played Nazr and Joakim together because Utah has a big front line.''
Belinelli's shot typically came off a scramble after a missed shot. With the Bulls trailing 88-86 with 10.9 seconds left after Joakim Noah rebounded a missed shot by the Jazz, Belinelli missed a short jumper. But Noah got the rebound and passed to Jimmy Butler near the basket. Butler quickly found an open Belinelli in the corner and Belinelli's smooth three-pointer hit nothing but net.
''I didn't do too much. I just shot the ball,'' Belinelli said. ''I was ready to shoot the ball. I think we were lucky and [Noah] got a great rebound and [Butler] did a good job to find me in the corner. I think Jimmy made the best move.''
Butler scored one point on 0-of-2 shooting and had three rebounds in 22 minutes. But he made the play when he had to.
''I just saw Marco over there standing all alone in the corner, I guess.'' Butler said. ''We're always priding ourselves on making the extra pass. Not ony was that the extra one, I think that was the right one. He was open. You find the shooters when theu're open.''
''Jimmy Butler's line does not reflect how well he played,'' Thibodeau said. ''That was a big loose-ball scramble that he came up with.''
The Bulls shot 5-of-24 from the field in the fourth quarter as the Jazz used a 10-0 run to turn a 76-71 deficit into an 81-76 lead with 7:22 to play. But Belinelli dunked off a pass from Butler, Carlos Boozer hit a 17-footer and Belinelli added a three-pointer to give the Bulls an 84-83 lead with 5:03 to play.
The Jazz regained the lead behind Al Jefferson (23 points on 10-of-16 shooting), who hit a 19-footer to give the Jazz (32-30 with six losses in their last seven games) an 88-86 lead with 51 seconds left.
After Noah missed a shot inside, Jefferson had a chance to put the hammer down, but missed a 19-footer. That gave the Bulls the chance they needed.
''It wasn't the way they drew it up,'' Jefferson said. ''He hit a tough shot. I thought we had defended him well.''
The Jazz had the last shot, but Gordon Hayward missed a 15-foot jumper and Butler got the rebound to clinch the victory.
''Every game is important. But we've let too many slip away at home this year,'' Butler said, referring to the Bulls 18-14 home record. ''It was great to get a home win and head onto the road with [momentum].''