The Phoenix Suns have snapped a five-game losing streak after dominating the Chicago Bulls 97-81.
Michael Beasley emerged for 20 points to lead the Suns’ bench for the team’s first road win since Nov. 27 in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. Additionally, this victory breaks the Suns’ five-game losing streak to improve their road record to 3-17. Beasley said this victory has given the Suns a stronger sense of optimism moving forward with the rest of the season.
“There has been a cloud hanging over us for a while,” Beasley explained. “This game gives us hope.”
Coach Alvin Gentry also explained that this being the franchise’s 2,000th win has an added dimension as it was against one of the more prestigious organizations.
“It was a much needed win for us,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “When you (win No. 2,000) against a historical team like the Bulls and all they’ve meant to this league, it really is a great achievement.”
Conversely, the Bulls are now 10-10 at home. Coach Tom Thibodeau noted that Chicago has displayed a certain level of inconsistency that needs to be understood and addressed.
“Just understanding how quickly things can change,” Thibodeau said. “After winning on the road, you come home and you have to get ready all over again.”
Following the Phoenix Suns’ dreadful second-half meltdown against the Nets, it was nearly impossible to be anything but pessimistic going into Chicago Saturday night. This sentiment could only be reinforced after considering the Bulls’ impressive performance in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. Regardless, a number of people might have perceived this matchup as a potential trap game for Chicago.
Fortunately for the Phoenix Suns, those individuals were absolutely right.
The Suns entered this game limited offensively without Jared Dudley, who suffered a right wrist strain Friday in Brooklyn. So, once the team’s best big man in Marcin Gortat started the first quarter with two early personal fouls, Phoenix’s chances initially seemed bleak at best.
Yet despite these collective complications, the Phoenix Suns were able to start the game only down 21-20 thanks to the Chicago Bulls committing four turnovers and shooting 0-2 from beyond the 3-point line. The player who stood out on the floor was the Suns’ other low-post player, Luis Scola.
With just over six minutes to go in the second quarter, Scola led both teams in scoring with 14 points and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. This initial performance appeared to be the launching pad for Beasley to explode for 14 points in the last nine minutes of the first half. Beasley ended the second quarter shooting 7-8 from the field to uplift the Suns to a 49-42 halftime lead over the Bulls.
However, the lingering question became could the Phoenix Suns carry this intense and fiery first half into the start of the third quarter?
By the start of the second half, Suns appeared to answer with an aggressive yes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Ironically, Phoenix showcased tremendous team defense against a Bulls’ roster that regularly demonstrates defensive prowess. P.J. Tucker actively illustrated this from his play against Luol Deng, who scored 33 points the previous night against the Knicks. Deng finished the game with just 13 points, five rebounds and two assists.
The Suns overall defense versus the Bulls was equally impressive after holding Chicago to an abysmal 36 percent from the field. Although Phoenix still struggled with 17 total turnovers, the Suns as a team out-gained the Bulls with 23 assists, 11 blocks as well as 47 points off the bench. In spite of his injury, Dudley was able to post a Twitter message of the Suns victory over the Bulls.
“Great thing about basketball it’s a team sport! Not 1 person is bigger then the team,” Dudley said in a tweet. “Great win in Chicago!!!! Lets go home!!”