November 23, 2014

With a healthier lineup and Rodney Hood in top form, the Utah Jazz appear poised to build some momentum as they pursue a playoff berth.

The inconsistent Chicago Bulls don't seem ready to do the same after their latest effort, and coach Fred Hoiberg is questioning his team's ability to endure difficult times.

Utah (21-25) had Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert starting in the same game for the first time since its final contest in November in a 103-90 victory against Minnesota on Friday. Favors had 20 points and nine rebounds in his third game since returning from back spasms while Hood had a team-best 22 points.

"We've still got to work on a lot of stuff because I missed time, Rudy missed time. So there's still a lot of stuff we've got to work on," Favors said. "Overall, I think we're relieved that everybody's back healthy and we're going to try to make a push."

Hood, averaging 14.2 points, has topped 20 in each of his past three games and is averaging 22.8 in his last five.

"I've been pushing our team pretty hard, mentally as much as physically," coach Quin Snyder said. "I still feel like we've got to keep grinding because we've got guys back and we're trying to figure out who we are.

"Rodney's just asserting himself through those opportunities. ... It's good to see him playing like that."

The Jazz will seek a season-high third straight win when they face a Bulls team that's lost eight of 12. Chicago (26-20) hasn't strung together back-to-back victories since its season-best six-game win streak ended Jan. 7.

"We're trying to play our best ball up until the All-Star break," point guard Derrick Rose said. "Give ourselves a good taste in our mouth and when we come back, we come back with a sense of urgency, giving that effort every game."

The Bulls opened a season-high seven-game trip with a 114-91 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday but followed with a 120-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

The Bulls let the Clippers shoot 53.6 percent, their highest by an opponent this season, and gave up 69 points in the second half.

They also didn't get many contributions at the other end of the floor besides their backcourt. Jimmy Butler and Rose scored a combined 43 points.

"I've been saying this all year. I hate to sound like a broken record. We're a really good team when things are going well. We can go out there and play with a swagger and a confidence, but we lose that when things aren't going well," Hoiberg said.

The Bulls have lost two of three to the Jazz after winning six straight matchups and were blown out 97-77 in the most recent meeting Jan. 7, 2015. They have won three of the last four visits to Utah.

Favors averaged 20.5 points on 56.3 percent shooting and 13.0 rebounds as the Jazz split their two matchups with Chicago last season.

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