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updated: 11/8/2013 11:27 PM

For Bulls, that's more like it

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  • Associated Press The Bulls' Luol Deng came within an eyelash of his first career triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists to go with 5 steals against the Jazz at the United Center on Friday night.

      Associated Press The Bulls' Luol Deng came within an eyelash of his first career triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists to go with 5 steals against the Jazz at the United Center on Friday night.

 
 

The Bulls stepped away from their early-season slump to roll past the winless Utah Jazz 97-73 on Friday.

But fans at the United Center were unhappy about a couple of nonevents in the fourth quarter.

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With the advanced stats on the scoreboard, everyone in the building could tell Luol Deng was 1 assist away from getting his first career-triple double.

Kirk Hinrich missed a jumper that would have gotten it done. Then center Nazr Mohammed caught a pass from Deng and cranked up a quick 15-foot jumper that hit the front rim.

On the next trip, Deng drove and dished off to Mohammed. After a pump fake, he missed badly on a reverse layup attempt.

"I was definitely aware of it," Mohammed said. "I was trying to get it for him. When I saw he had it, I kind of pulled (the jumper). It would have been nice if I got it for him. I tried. I'll take him out to dinner."

Not long after Mohammed's second miss, coach Tom Thibodeau pulled Deng at the 6:15 mark of the fourth quarter as the fans booed.

"I was just trying to get us to execute," Thibodeau said. "I'm not concerned with his triple-double."

The other unpopular moment was when the Bulls left the fans stranded at 97 points, 3 shy of free Big Macs -- but that happens about once a week during NBA season. After the game, Deng laughed off his near miss.

"It would have been cool, but there's two sides of it," Deng said. "One side, it took him 10 years to get it. The other side is I've been close many times. It's cool. I'm really not worried about it at all."

Deng finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 5 steals. His best play of the night was probably when he jumped in front of a pass at midcourt, then finished a layup and 3-point play against a strong challenge from Utah's Gordon Hayward.

One teammate did claim to be in the dark about the near-miss triple-double.

"I didn't even know. I try not to look at the scoreboard at all," said Taj Gibson, who was on the floor when the Bulls went 0-for-3 on shots that would have created the 10th assist.

"He was playing phenomenal. I'm happy that he almost had it, but too bad. I can see now why Nazr was taking quick jumpers. If I had known, I would have shot some 3s, just in case."

On this night, the Bulls met expectations and repaired some damage from their disappointing 1-3 start. They shot 52.8 percent from the field and limited Utah to 29.4 percent shooting.

The Bulls piled up 26 assists, but still had too many turnovers (21). After scoring a paltry 14 points in the paint against Indiana on Wednesday, they dominated that stat 56-22 against the Jazz. Carlos Boozer matched Deng's double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Derrick Rose turned in a low-key 12 points and 5 assists, sitting out the entire fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

The bottom line is the Bulls are still below .500 at 2-3 and the season could turn in either direction at anytime.

"To me, its day by day," Thibodeau said. "One game doesn't mean everything's all straightened out. We have to take a hard look at ourselves and make the necessary corrections."

•Follow Mike's Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls and check out his All Bull blog at dailyherald.com.

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