Suns fall to Bulls 103-97, Jimmy Butler too much to handle
The Suns dropped a hard fought game to the Chicago Bulls tonight by a score of 103-97. This looked like a winnable game with the Bulls missing Derrick Rose from their starting lineup while the Suns saw Markieff Morris and Ronnie Price return to the court after both missing two games.
Phoenix SF P.J. Tucker had his best night of the year, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Eric Bledsoe notched 20+ points for the sixth straight game, compiling 21 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Coming off a triple-double last game, Brandon Knight put in 23 points while adding three rebounds and four assists.
A slow first quarter was to blame for the Suns woes, scoring only 18 points while the Bulls put up 31. The Suns had a slow start to the game, something that they had done a good job avoiding over the last three games. Pau Gasol got going early, converting 4/4 from the floor and scoring a quick eight points to get the Bulls out ahead midway through the quarter.
The Suns saw themselves down 17 early in the second quarter with cold shooting holding the team down. Price sparked a 6-0 Suns run with a nice steal in the backcourt that lead to a layup, followed by a Brandon Knight steal and lay-in. With good defense and some renewed energy, the Suns brought the game to within six points at halftime, outscoring the Bulls by seven points in the quarter.
Phoenix kept their momentum over halftime and came out ready to play in the third quarter. A single possession that included a series of offensive rebounds by Tucker and Tyson Chandler showed that the Suns meant business, hitting the glass hard and coming up with the ball over and over. The possession ended with a Tucker layup, followed by a technical foul placed on Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek saw some contact on Tucker’s shot and wanted the call for his guy. It is always nice to see a coach stick up for his players like that. Despite cold shooting from behind the arc (5/20 through the 3rd), the Suns only trailed by two points heading into the final quarter.
Bulls SG/SF Jimmy Butler let his presence be felt in the 4th, scoring 11 of his 30 points in the quarter to squash any hopes of a comeback. Butler created match-up problems for the Suns on both sides of the ball tonight, doing a good job making things difficult for Suns guards all game.
- The Suns lacked fluidity on offense and energy on defense early on. Converting 32% from the field in the first quarter and only scoring 18, the Suns found themselves with a 13 point deficit heading into the second quarter. Bledsoe got off to an uncharacteristically tame start, scoring only two points on 1/7 shooting and failing to make his presence felt early. The Suns rely on Bledsoe’s scoring output and energy to get out of the gates quickly and tonight’s lack-thereof hurt them early.
- With T.J. Warren missing tonight’s game due to illness, Tucker did a great job taking over some of his responsibilities. Tucker made great cuts to the hoop and finished at the rim at high efficiency tonight. He hasn’t been a big part of the offense this year but stepped up big tonight to keep the game close.
- Butler gave the Suns backcourt a true test. At 6’7”, Butler’s height and wingspan gave the Suns all sorts of trouble tonight. The two PG lineup has been doing the Suns well so far this year, but we will have to wait and see if these matchups against big SG’s will continue to give them trouble.
The Suns next game is Friday, November 20th in Denver against the Nuggets. The Suns currently lead the season series 1-0, beating the Nuggets at home 105-81 earlier this month.