Bulls lose hard-fought battle against the Suns (Phoenix, AZ) – In the second game on their west coast road trip, the Bulls will have a tough test against the Phoenix Suns tonight. Phoenix has been one of the best teams this season, with the 2nd best record in the league at 32-14. The Suns also rank 3rd in opponent points per game, as they only allow 107.1 points per game.
In comparison, Chicago ranks 24th as they give up 113.9 points per game. Defense has been a struggle this season for the Bulls. It will be especially important for Chicago to give their best effort in defending Devin Booker, who is averaging 25 points per game for Phoenix. Zach LaVine is also missing his 1st game this year, with Lauri Markannen replacing him in the starting lineup.
Devin Booker scores 22 in the 1st half
The Bulls got off to a strong start, as they made 5 out of their first 6 shots. This gave Chicago a 13-6 lead with 8.5 minutes left in the 1st. Later in the quarter, Daniel Theis committed a flagrant foul on a Jae Crowder-made three-pointer, allowing Phoenix to score six points on one possession. This put Phoenix up 27-26 with 4 minutes left. The Suns led 39-37 going into the 2nd. Booker and Crowder combined for 23 points in the opening period, while Markkanen had 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Phoenix made 3 three’s to start the 2nd, which extended their lead to 48-42. Denzel Valentine responded with consecutive layups, to reduce the Suns advantage to 52-49 with 5 minutes remaining in the quarter. Booker scored 7 points from that point forward, helping Phoenix lead 67-58 going into the 2nd half.
Booker was dominant in the 1st half scoring 22 points, but Dario Saric also scored 13 points off the bench for Phoenix. The Suns shot 61% in the first half and also made 10/18 (55%) three-pointers. The Bulls were able to remain close by out rebounding Phoenix 30-20. Markannen had 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Vučevic, Booker duel in the 3rd
After only scoring 2 points in the 1st half, Chris Paul scored six points early in the 3rd to give Phoenix their largest lead of the game. Paul’s midrange jumpers put the Suns up 79-65 with 8 minutes left in the quarter. Chicago then went on a 15-6 run to trim the Suns lead down to 85-80, with 2 minutes remaining. Nikola Vučevic scored 12 in the quarter for Chicago, but Booker met his effort with 14 of his own. Phoenix led 94-86 going into the 4th.
Suns close out the Bulls
Chicago continued to cut into the Suns lead to begin the 4th, going on a 12-7 run. That reduced the Phoenix advantage to 101-98, with 7 minutes left in the game. Patrick Williams later fouled Booker on a three-point shot and he converted on all three free throws. This put the Suns up 112-105, with 4 minutes left. The Bulls continued to fight, as Thaddeus Young hit a layup to make it 115-112 with 1 minute remaining. Booker responded with a driving layup, which was the dagger. Phoenix won the game, 121-116.
This was a great effort by the Bulls, as Vučevic (24 points and 10 rebounds), Young (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Markannen (16 points and 10 rebounds) all had double-doubles. Booker and Paul’s contribution was too much to overcome though. Booker scored 45, with Paul adding 19 points and 14 assists.
Phoenix (33-14) will play their next game against the Thunder (20-27) on Friday at 9pm CT.
Chicago (19-27) will play the Utah Jazz (36-11) on Friday at 8pm CT.
Bulls lose hard-fought battle against the Suns