Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) flexes his muscles as Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young (21) walks away in the second half during an NBA basketball game Friday, April 2, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz have not lost at home since the calendar turned to 2021. Their latest victory was one for the history books.
Mitchell scored 26 points and the Jazz beat the Chicago Bulls 113-106 on Friday night for their 21st straight win at home, a franchise record.
Rudy Gobert had 19 points and 13 rebounds as Utah (37-11) won its eighth in a row overall despite getting outscored 68-40 in the paint. Jordan Clarkson scored 19 off the bench. Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points and a season-high eight rebounds.
The Jazz allowed only 10 points in the paint in the fourth quarter after giving up 58 through the first three periods.
“They came out aggressive. They came out wanting to get into the paint,” Mitchell said. “It’s going to happen some games. It’s just about how much can we limit it from happening? We didn’t really do too good of a job of it tonight, but we were able to adjust and figure it out as the game went on.”
Thaddeus Young scored 25 points to lead the Bulls. Zach LaVine added 23 and Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Chicago (19-28) dropped its sixth consecutive game, with losses to Utah bookending the streak.
“If we just win a couple more possessions, it’s our game,” LaVine said. “It seems like every game comes down to a couple of these possessions.”
After trailing by 11 late in the second quarter, the Bulls tied it at 62 on a pull-up 3-pointer from LaVine early in the third. LaVine’s basket finished off a 13-4 surge to open the period.
Bogdanovic scored back-to-back buckets to keep Chicago from taking the lead. He added two more in a 16-4 spurt that put the Jazz back up 78-66.
The Bulls rallied again in the fourth quarter and cut Utah’s lead to 109-106 on a 3 from Vucevic with 26.7 seconds left. Mitchell and Royce O’Neale each drained a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.
“We were trying to get one trap and then we had a foul to give,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “And even if we foul, we’re causing them to take it on the side. We just never got to the trap and I thought we had an opportunity to do it because they brought the ball up the sideline and we didn’t come. It would be nice to have gotten one trap at least and see what happens.”
Chicago pressured the rim throughout the first half and it paid off. The Bulls scored eight straight baskets and 19 of their first 20 overall in the paint. They totaled 38 points in the paint in the first half alone.
Attacking the rim helped Chicago carve out a 41-36 lead midway through the second quarter on the strength of a 10-0 run. Patrick Williams and Coby White punctuated the spree with back-to-back baskets.
It was not enough to hold off the Jazz once Utah heated up from the perimeter. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Mike Conley and a tip-in by Mitchell over three straight possessions capped a 20-4 run that gave Utah a 58-47 lead just before halftime.
“When we started to lock in, our physicality was better,” Gobert said. “It was harder for them to score inside.”
Bulls: White returned from a two-game absence (left cervical pain). He finished with four points and three assists in 24 minutes. … Chicago allowed zero fast-break points in the first half.
Jazz: Clarkson has made at least one 3-pointer in 74 straight games after hitting three against the Bulls. … Utah went 26 of 27 at the free throw line.
Bogdanovic made a concerted effort to get to the rim in the first quarter. His first three baskets were a turnaround hook shot, a six-foot jumper and a tip-in. It helped the Jazz forward make eight baskets and shoot 53% from the field overall for the second time in five games.
He is known for his 3-point shooting, but Bogdanovic chose to focus on getting into the paint after making just one 3-pointer for the fourth time in his last five games.
“I’m trying to find what works with me,” Bogdanovic said.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder gave Bogdanovic credit for giving Utah a critical early lift in recent games by keeping focused around the basket and creating good looks for himself.
“When he’s gotten in the paint, he’s been under control,” Snyder said.
“I was telling myself that it wasn’t my time. I had more things to accomplish, more kids to help.” — Gobert on what went through his mind after the Jazz charter plane struck birds on Tuesday, forcing an emergency landing.
Bulls: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
Jazz: Host the Orlando Magic on Saturday.