Bulls beat Jazz in London on rookie Johnson's buzzer-beater


Oct 6

By Adam Fluck

Head Coach Vinny Del Negro’s postgame comments (10.06.09):

Bulls forward Luol Deng reflects on the trip and win (10.06.09):

LONDON–The Bulls and Jazz have taken the court at the O2 arena, with tip off set for 7:30 local time and 1:30 p.m. CT on NBA TV.

Chicago will be without Derrick Rose (right ankle strain), Tyrus Thomas (right hip contusion) and John Salmons (home with his expecting wife), so Head Coach Vinny Del Negro’s starting lineup will consist of Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah.

It’s the third consecutive year the NBA will host a preseason game at the O2, and prior to the game, Commissioner David Stern spoke of the league’s global aspirations. Among the NBA’s goals are to have a regular season game played in London prior to the city’s hosting of the 2012 Olympics.

For the Utah Jazz, it’s the first stop of their European tour, as the club will take on Real Madrid in Madrid later this week.

“For the last three years through NBA Europe Live, I have been able to witness first-hand, the passion and excitement of basketball fans in Europe,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern in a previously released statement. “This year will be no different when two franchises rich in tradition and success, the Bulls and the Jazz, play at The O2. The continued efforts of Euroleague Basketball and EA SPORTS, together with the ongoing support of England Basketball, British Basketball and the British Basketball League, are a testament to the commitment to grow basketball in the U.K.”
Here is a quarter by quarter breakdown of the game:

First Quarter

It feels like the United Center at the O2, as the Bulls’ standard home introductions ran during the starting lineups, complete with Benny the Bull hoisting the team’s flag at center court.

London native Luol Deng received a loud cheer from the capacity crowd, many on hand particularly to cheer on the Team GB hopeful.

Deng greeted the crowd just before tip off, thanking the fans for their support and letting everyone know how excited he was to be back in London.

On to the game, with the Bulls in their road red uniforms, and the Jazz wearing white. Tyrus Thomas’ absence gives Taj Gibson, who led the Bulls with 19 points in the team’s win at Indiana on Friday, the start at power forward. Gibson is matched up against Carlos Boozer, who openly talked about his desire to be traded this summer—Chicago and Miami were reportedly his destinations of choice—but has since changed his tune and will remain in Utah, at least for now. Gibson’s bucket and the foul got the Bulls to within two, trailing 9-7 with less than nine minutes to go.

Luol Deng scored his first two points of the night at the 7:55 mark, and converted the three-point play at the charity stripe. With 5:40 remaining in the first, Deng had seven points to lead all scorers with the game tied at 14 apiece.

Rookie Derrick Byars got in on the action with a fast break layup on an assist from Deng, who recorded nine points and three assists. Bulls led 27-26 at the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

Taj Gibson dunked on a strong move to the hoop early in the second frame, and was fouled in the process. His free throw missed, but a group of Gibson, Pargo, Byars, James Johnson and Chris Richard kept the Bulls in it with the starters on the bench. Johnson scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Bulls a 43-36 lead with just over six minutes to go in the half.

Johnson picked up his third foul when he hustled to deny Paul Millsap an easy dunk. Millsap connected on both free throws to cut the Bulls’ lead to five, 47-42, with under three minutes on the clock.

Deng continued his sharp play upon his return, making a pair of jump shots at the half wound down. Deng led all scorers with 13 points and five assists in 18 and a half minutes. Pargo cracked double figures as well with 10 points and three assists, while Hinrich nine points and five rebounds.

Chicago converted of 61.1 percent of shots from the field and entered the locker room with a 55-48 advantage. Watch first half highlights now!

All but one—Lindsey Hunter—of the ten Bulls who dressed saw action in the first half.

Third Quarter

Despite the return of Utah starters Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, the Bulls maintained their lead through the middle of the third quarter, and led 69-62 with five and a half minutes left in the period.

Hunter made his entry at approximately the four minute mark and hit a pair of free throws to put the Bulls up 71-67. He knocked down a jumper a few minutes later which extended the lead to eight, 75-67.

During a time out in the third, the NBA Cares program was highlighted. Former Bull B.J. Armstrong was among those with the league in London who made multiple appearances to work with London’s youth and teach the game of basketball. Armstrong manages Derrick Rose, whom he accompanied on an appearance Rose made at the adidas store on Oxford Street Monday afternoon.

Through three quarters of play, Chicago led Utah, 81-77.

Fourth Quarter

Utah turned it on in the final frame, going on a 16-8 to take a four-point lead, 93-89, with five minutes remaining in regulation.

As a second round of the wave ensued in the stands at O2, the Bulls tied it up at 93 all on a Jannero Pargo drive. Brought in to help pick up the scoring slack created by Ben Gordon’s departure for Detroit, Pargo did his part on Tuesday, scoring 16 points in 35 minutes of action before picking up his sixth and final foul.

Gibson fouled out at the 3:03 mark and finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.

A key block by Joakim Noah with 66 seconds remaining led to a rebound by James Johnson on the following shot. Johnson drove the ball the length of the court, made the shot, and was fouled on the attempt. His free throw put the Bulls up one, 100-99, with just less than a minute to go.

Derrick Byars missed two free throws with 39.4 seconds to go, and the Jazz regained possession on a jump ball. Ronnie Price’s contested layup missed, but he was subsequently fouled by Hunter and sent to the line, where he made both shots with 25.4 seconds remaining to put Utah up 101-100.

Out of a timeout called by the Bulls, Johnson’s three-point shot fell short. The Bulls secured the rebound and Derrick Byars had a potential game-winning three from the top of the key. It missed, but James Johnson was in the right place at the right time. He quickly put up a shot with 0.1 seconds remaining that swished through the net as time expired to secure a 102-101 Bulls win.

Chicago improved to 2-0 in the preseason. Johnson finished with 18 and eight rebounds, Deng had 18, and four other players scored in double digits.

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