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Bulls-Jazz Preview

SALT LAKE CITY -- Stopping teams at the rim is turning into a massive chore for the Utah Jazz.

Over the past six games since a right knee contusion sidelined Rudy Gobert, Utah surrendered 45 points in the paint per game.

That inability to protect the rim cost the Jazz badly in a 107-86 loss to Philadelphia on Monday. The Jazz surrendered 66 points in the paint to the 76ers. Philadelphia hit 57 percent of its 2-point attempts and shot only 15 3-pointers.

Utah will face another interior challenge when it hosts Chicago on Wednesday night with Gobert still unavailable. The Bulls feature rookie 7-footer Lauri Markkanen, who is the only first-year player currently leading his team both in scoring (15.4 points per game) and rebounding (8.4 per game).

The Jazz didn't do well dealing with a dominant rookie on Monday, allowing Ben Simmons to carve them up inside. Simmons totaled a career-high 27 points and added 10 rebounds. He and Joel Embiid imposed their will inside from the beginning.

"They were driving us, particularly in the open floor," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "We didn't do a good job of staying in front of them."

Interior defensive lapses also are making it tougher for Utah on the perimeter. The Jazz (7-11) have allowed four of their past five opponents to shoot better than 46 percent from 3-point range and have won just once in those contests.

Still, Chicago isn't likely to give Utah trouble inside or outside until the Bulls can find some consistency on offense.

Chicago (3-12) ranks 29th in the NBA in scoring, and its offense faded in the second half of a 103-94 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. The Bulls totaled just 38 second-half points and shot 38.3 percent from the field overall.

Kris Dunn could play a pivotal role in helping the Chicago offense take a step forward with his continued progress as a floor general.

Dunn earned his first start of the season on Tuesday. The second-year guard moved into the starting lineup after churning out 19.5 points on 56.3 percent shooting and 6.5 assists in Chicago's games against Charlotte and Phoenix.

Dunn embraces starting as a necessary step to realizing his goal of becoming one of the league's top point guards.

"It's not fully there, but the more games I play, the more comfortable I'm going to get," Dunn told Bulls.com before facing the Lakers. "Going against the best guys. I mean, when you go against the best guys, you see where your game's at and see what you need to work on and improve. And you learn. You learn from those guys."

Utah will need a former starter to keep emerging on offense in order to snag its fourth win in November. Backup guard Rodney Hood has shot better than 50 percent from the floor in three of his past four games. Hood is averaging 22.8 points and shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point range in that stretch.

His best game came in Utah's most recent win, a 125-85 victory at Orlando on Saturday. Hood tallied a season-high 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting.

"I like playing with the second unit, coming off the bench," Hood said Saturday. "I am the guy that they look for to take control when I'm in the game, being aggressive -- whether it is shooting the ball or making plays for others. The second unit kind of feeds off me."

Chicago has won three straight games against Utah overall after sweeping the series last season. The Jazz last beat the Bulls on Feb. 1, 2016, prevailing 105-96 in overtime behind 27 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists from Gordon Hayward.

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