January 06, 2015

The revolving door of injuries keeps on spinning for the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls, with no signs of slowing down for the home stretch.

With each team missing key players again, the Jazz and Bulls continue to scrap for postseason spots Saturday night.

Utah (33-35) has won four straight to move closer to Portland, Dallas and Houston, who are holding down the final three Western Conference three playoff berths.

The Jazz's chances of making it in seemingly suffered a major blow this week with the news that leading scorer Gordon Hayward would miss time with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, an injury notorious for keeping players shelved for extended time.

Hayward, who averages 20.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists, sat out the last two games and his return is uncertain.

Utah, however, earned two impressive wins without him, beating East-leading Cleveland 94-85 on Monday and Phoenix 103-69 on Thursday.

Joe Ingles had a season-high 15 points and career-high six steals against the Suns while starting his second straight game in place of Hayward. Trey Lyles scored 17 and Shelvin Mack had 15 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

''The way our system is, it's not for Gordon or for anybody in particular,'' Ingles said. ''It goes side-to-side and we've got 15 guys that are willing to pass the ball. Whoever's going or whoever's open is going to take or get the shot.''

It was the defensive showing that was most impressive. The Jazz held the Suns to a season-low point total for a Utah opponent and 34.1 percent shooting, which included a 6-for-24 effort on 3-pointers.

The Jazz have played lengthy stretches without several key contributors, including Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Dante Exum.

Utah will be looking for a sweep of the season series after a 105-96 overtime victory Feb. 1, its third in four meetings.

Chicago (34-33) opened a pivotal four-game homestand with Thursday's 118-102 win over Brooklyn.

The fragile Derrick Rose (groin) and Jimmy Butler (knee) each logged at least 29 minutes, while Taj Gibson played 27 minutes despite a nagging right hamstring injury. Gibson started in place of Pau Gasol, who will sit out Saturday and is doubtful for Monday's contest against Sacramento due to right knee inflammation.

E'Twaun Moore has helped to fill the void in the Bulls' backcourt when Rose and Butler have been unavailable, but he's also out after leaving Thursday's game with a left hamstring injury. Gibson is probable.

"It's a part of the NBA, it's being a part of this team," Gibson said. "I'm an unselfish player and I am trying to set a good example for the young guys and go out there and play for each other, especially now with the playoff push. It's real important now helping each other. So I don't want them to see any doubt."

Chicago, battling Indiana, Detroit and Washington for the East's final two postseason spots, has received a huge lift from Doug McDermott off the bench lately. He's averaged 24.7 points and 62.2 percent shooting while going 12 of 19 from behind the arc in the last three games, two of them wins.

You May Like