An 'ugly win' one to behold

Chicago BullsSportsBasketballUnited CenterEric PiatkowskiOthella HarringtonAntonio Davis

When all five starters are on the bench watching first-quarter action because of ineffective play, it rarely means good things.

Nineteen turnovers typically are a precursor to a quiet postgame locker room and a somber postmortem from the coach.

Forty-one percent shooting isn't much cause for celebration either.

But these are the upstart and surprising Bulls, who continue to overcome opponents and their own shortcomings with equal aplomb.

Their 84-78 victory over Utah at the United Center on Friday night kicked off a five-game homestand with satisfaction, if not style.

"That," said Kirk Hinrich, who had 12 points and nine assists, "was an ugly win."

The Bulls are now 12-9 since their 0-9 start, which ended with a Nov. 24 victory in Utah. The Jazz, swept by the Bulls for the first time since the 1995-96 season, is reeling, having lost eight straight.

Eddy Curry scored five points and Luol Deng added four in a decisive 9-0, fourth-quarter run that snapped a 70-70 tie.

Deng led the Bulls with 22 points, while Curry contributed 21 points before fouling out with 90 seconds remaining.

As Curry walked to the bench, the crowd of 16,887 serenaded him with chants of "Eddy! Eddy!"

The fans were saluting an extremely aggressive evening for the often mild-mannered center, who consistently established solid post position and exchanged several glares and hard fouls with the Jazz big men.

"At one point, everybody on the court had blood on their jerseys," Curry said. "But it got me going."

Added coach Scott Skiles: "Eddy is taking efforts into the second half."

Antonio Davis put an exclamation point on matters with an emphatic slam with seven seconds remaining, a fast-break started by a Tyson Chandler blocked shot.

Chandler had four blocks, giving him nine in two games, and he added nine rebounds.

He ran off the court slapping hands with the courtside customers.

"I definitely feel like the fourth quarter is my time," Chandler said.

The Bulls thought they had final separation when they had a 15-1, third-quarter run to break a 48-48 tie. Deng scored 11 in the spurt, including eight straight on a three-point play, a fast-break dunk and a three-point shot.

"I was feeling it in the second half," Deng said.

But Utah roared back in the fourth, tying the game 70-70 before the Bulls' last decisive run.

Those runs seemed inconceivable with the way the Bulls began the game.

Everybody but Eric Piatkowski played in the first quarter, in which the Bulls trailed by as many as 13. One rarely seen lineup featured seldom-used Frank Williams, Adrian Griffin, Othella Harrington, Ben Gordon and Chandler.

Curry was the only starter to score in the first quarter. The Bulls trailed 22-12 because of 3-of-18 shooting and poor defensive help.

"It's the first time in awhile we didn't show up at the start," Skiles said.

Knowing how important this homestand is, the Bulls rallied. They are now 8-9 at the United Center.

"The great teams win at home," Chandler said. "That's what we're trying to become."

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