Phoenix Suns 97, Chicago Bulls 81 -- 2,000 reasons to celebrate

Michael Beasley (0) dunks over Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

Michael Beasley (0) dunks over Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

Absolutely unbelievable.

Those are the only words that come to mind in the wake of Phoenix’s 97-81 victory over the Chicago Bulls. This victory removes several of the monkeys who had taken up residence on Phoenix’s back over the last month. The win snapped both a five-game losing streak and a 12-game road losing streak. It was the Suns’ first win in the second night of a back-to-back all season. It was also the Suns’ first road win against a team with a winning record this year. The victory over the Bulls is the 2000th in franchise history, making the Suns the fourth-fastest team to reach that lofty mark.

“Obviously it was a much needed win for us. It is especially good to get it against a quality team,” coach Alvin Gentry told “Yes, this was the 2000th win for the franchise. That’s great, but when you do it against a historical team like the Bulls and all they’ve meant to this league it is really a great achievement.”

This was the best game the Suns have played all season. This is the most resilient the team has looked in a very long time. They matched Chicago’s physicality, and never backed down from it. They got stronger and more potent as the game went along. Once Phoenix took the lead, they pounded the Bulls relentlessly and prevented them from creeping back into the game. Tonight, the Suns reminded everyone in the Valley of the Sun how sweet hard-fought victories are.

“For the first time in a very long time we played and executed well for four quarters,” Gentry said. “We rebounded, shot well and played good defense.”

Aside from getting a much needed ‘W’, the most impressive thing about this game was the Suns’ offense. It’s unmistakably clear that Phoenix is most productive when their offense runs through Luis Scola at the high post. Outside of Goran Dragic, this team does not have a more talented passer than Scola. From the high post, he can shoot a jumper, penetrate into the key, find cutters diving toward the hoop, or hit open guys on the perimeter. He made every one of those plays in this game and ended the night with 22 points on 60 percent shooting to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and only two turnovers. Scola abused Carlos Boozer for 10 points in the first quarter, causing Chicago Coach Tom Thibodeau to put Joakim Noah, a much better defender, on him for the second half. Scola took advantage of Noah’s reticence to leave the paint by hitting several jump shots in the third. Luis made excellent decisions all night long. While he won’t play this flawlessly every night, he’s still the Suns’ best offensive option right now. The more Scola touches the ball, the more versatile and productive Phoenix’s offense will be.

One of the Suns’ biggest problems this year has been initiating their offense too far from the basket. It’s hard to get quality looks when catching the ball 35+ feet from the hoop. In the early part of this game, the Bulls brought Noah to the ball-side block as an extra defender on every single possession. This position made passes into the paint hard with Noah’s length, and put him in great position to help if Brown or Dragic penetrated. The Suns eventually countered this move by initiating their offense with a pass to Scola at the top of the key or either elbow. This prevented Chicago from overloading and made their defense much easier to penetrate. Scola played the dual role of scorer and distributor perfectly, and the Bulls had no answer.

This approach will be even more effective when the Suns get their best outside shooter, Jared Dudley, back from injury. Dudley missed tonight’s game with an injured hand.

While Scola controlled the first and third quarters, it was Michael Beasley in the second period who really broke the game open for Phoenix. Playing extended minutes for the first time in 2013, Beasley exploded for 20 points on an impressive 10-of-14 from the field. He made his first six shots and helped the Suns open up a seven-point halftime lead.

“I was shooting tonight like I really wanted to make it,” Beasley said. “It is the first time in a long time I have felt that way and had the confidence.”

Michael is most effective when he uses his athleticism to create shots rather than catching beyond the arc and heaving jumpers. Tonight he was constantly in motion, making it very difficult for Chicago to defend him. He got open looks in the rhythm of the offense, and capped off his mid-season renaissance with a thunderous right-handed dunk which slammed the door on Chicago for good.

It was quite refreshing to this kind of performance from Beasley, but it was even more impressive to see the Suns effort on defense. Early in the first, Chicago was scoring at will off a screen-down play between Rip Hamilton and Joakim Noah. The first few times the Bulls ran it, both Shannon Brown and Marcin Gortat chased Hamilton, leaving for Noah wide open near the hoop to score easy baskets or draw fouls. When Gortat decided to stay home on Noah, Hamilton started burying jumpers. It looked as though the Suns were going to be exposed defensively all night long.

But then something unexpected happened. Phoenix ratcheted up its intensity. Gortat and Scola switched every screen inside and got physical on the boards. The guards pestered Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson and forced them into sloppy passes. Most importantly, P.J. Tucker blanketed Luol Deng, who managed only 13 points.

When asked about the Suns’ defense, Coach Gentry said, “We tried to make sure that Belinelli and Luol could not get open looks for 3′s. They have been hitting some big shots the last couple games. We wanted to make them play makers, not shooters. We did a good job at that and working the boards. We had a tough loss against them in Phoenix and we didn’t want to have that happen again.”

This is the first time in a long time that the Suns have responded to physical play this way. Their unwillingness to back down frustrated the Bulls who were whistled for four technical fouls in the game. The Suns ended up holding Chicago to 36 percent shooting, including only 2-11 from downtown. While Chicago wasn’t at its best having played New York last night, this is still a well-deserved win for Phoenix, and possibly a sign of things to come.

Tags: Chicago Bulls Luis Scola Michael Beasley Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap

  • Brandon Haraway

    Ironic how such a milestone win came on such an unlikely night. Don’t think anybody called this.

  • Scott

    Sad to say it, but I had company over and so missed this game. :(

  • jones

    Clearly Dudley being out affected our rotation. Blessing in disguise. Beasley got minutes in the lineup without playing with Dudley, Dragic or JO.

    More of that unit with Wes, Bassy, Morris and Gortat. They’re our most athletic lineup and also have the most upside on this team.

    I’d also like to see more minutes for Marshall at the point and less of Dragic there.

  • DBreezy

    We’re back baby!!!!!!!!!!!

  • azbballfan

    one win against a bulls team that came out half alseep and missings its best player isnt gonna convince me that the Suns season is saved.

    We still have alot of work to do

    we are still un unholy 3-17 on the road

    But with all that said the Suns had their best game when they really, really needed a win

    Now, can the team take this and run with it and become a consistent team?

    I dont know

    I still think we are headed for an overhaul at the trade deadline

    But hey several players just increased their trade value


    in this years finals the suns will beat the knicks in the last second of the seventh game with a slam by beasley over icomic poster will be printed and millions will be sold

  • m.i.milliman

    I’m happy for Alvin most of all. I got a soft spot for him. I don’t think he’s done the best job this year, but its got to be hard to do your job when the people you work for do such a poor job at what they do. I’ve got this on dvr, and even though I know the outcome, I’ll be checking it out tomorrow. Go Suns.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Why can’t Beasley play like that every game? He had a couple of stupid turnovers, but he hustled almost every play, and he shot well.

    Dragic, on the other hand….wow, I do not know what’s going on with him. He is just not playing well this season.

    I am glad we got the win, though. It was very satisfying to watch the Suns play a complete game on the road.

  • Wolfgang Gerhard

    Hooray, 13th pick here we come!!

  • John Huang

    Watching the Suns effort in this game makes me feel touched, especially Beasley’s , who have long been blamed hard for the Suns failure this season. I don’t know what will come in the Suns’ next game, but I am pretty sure that I am deeply touched by the Suns squade tonight….

  • hawki

    20 pts from Beasley ??

    Guess they ran outta ‘dro in Brooklyn.

  • hawki

  • Elviro (Italy)


    This is the player I want to see! This is the player who was second choice! and this is the player who has immense talent to explode!
    This is the player who should be given CONFIDENCE!
    It is no coincidence he spoke of CONFIDENCE: you must believe in him and focus on this talent, I’ve said many times, has a special character must feel important and has to turn his head in the right way will give us even more!
    Of course, as we say in Italy “one swallow does not make a summer” …. but if B-Easy enter into this psychological situation of self-confidence and trust receipt BY TEAM BY COACH become very important for the team! !
    Let me say a few words about SCOLA then, only he lacks the athleticism and tuiro from outside would otherwise be the prototype of the perfect power forward!
    He plays hard and dirty in defense and can score in every way in attachment!
    Of course in this situation rankings do not know what to think …. if we should go back to lose to get a good choice …. or start winning continuously ……..

  • Penny Hardaway

    Beasley was never the problem. The whole team was a problem. If you have brown as your # 1 scoring option, you know this team sucks. Beasley hasn’t been playing long minutes in a while and the team still sucked. Hence, Beasley was never the problem. As of late Beasley has been a team supporter and passing to teammates. Unlike Kobe who takes like 30 shots to get 30 points.

    I say let Marshall lead the offense at point and make Dragic a scorer. Brown just sucks big time.

  • Perry Roble

    wow! This is what the SUNS fans want! If the team plays well and executed the game plan and BEASSSTLY PLAYS BEAST with much efficient shooting! then we will be in the playoffs hunt baby! I hope Beasley will play like this consistently. I mean Beasley has so much potential. hope he will play 20-10 a game or he will do anything he can to help this team! GO SUNS! ! !

  • John Huang

    Because I “expect” the Suns to win lots of games, I feel deeply hurt and uncomfortable when they’ve lost so much. So I started to point finger at or blamed or accused some player(s), calling them “suck” or “stupid” or “bad”! But actually no one is “suck” or “stupid” or “bad”, it’s ME who has been making them that way. It’s my own fault.

  • Scott

    How Beasley plays in the next game may tell us a bit about what’s going on with him.

    His comment after the game was something like, “I just really wanted to score. I haven’t felt that way in a long time.”

  • Cam

    Hopefully Scola keeps playing strong. Then after the 15th the Suns can move him for some talent or picks, along with Gortat, Brown, Wesley Johnson, basically anyone not named Dudley, Dragic or Marshall. I’m starting to think that Marshall at point and Dragic at the 2 spot. Go Suns.

  • DBreezy

    Scola cannot be traded before July 1st.

  • Ty-Sun

    Before the season began I thought the Suns could be a dangerous team to play if Beasley could average around 20 ppg. If he continues to stay focused and play smart, he could help turn this season around.

    The problem is that it’s probably too late for that to do more than put the Suns back in the same position they were in at the end of last season with a 12-14 draft pick and no playoff berth.

  • Ty-Sun

    Yeah, Scola can’t be traded before July 1. And trading him this really seems like a bad idea if, as Ryan says, at least part of the reason for last night’s win was running the offense through Scola in the high post.

  • Cody

    I didn’t get to watch the game but man it’s nice to see we won and to see Beasley didn’t struggle again, although he had a grip of to’s that’s understandable but I’m hoping Dragic can get it going again, he had a good assist line with 8 but his doubters will point out his missed shots but he’ll be alright. Scola has been really really good lately, and Gortat is doing a better rebounding job as of late. In a way I guess it was good that Dudley was out because it caused Gentry to have to use these guys and they actually made it worth while for him, but one game doesn’t mean anything because Wes and Beasley have been so inconsistent, but glad we won, hope we can build on it

  • Russell Suns fan

    What kind of a return can we get this tradeline or this summer for Gortat Morris and Marshall?

    The team did not evaluate Marshall and Morris enough and took them way too early. In my opinion no one would have taken either player before 22nd or 23 pick in each respective year. There was much better talent available and we passed on them, mostly because our current FO does not have a good eye for talent evaluation.

    However both are young and teams me see some value in the two in a package with Gortat.

  • Cam

    Thanks for the correction. For some reason I thought January 15th was the date he was available to trade but now I realize I was confusing that date with the date Ilyiasova, from the Bucks, was eligible to be traded when I was messing around in the trade machine. That being said, I don’t see why the Suns couldn’t work the high post offensive set through Beasley at he 4 spot. He has the range and the passing capabilities (don’t mistake that for a willingness to pass) and he has the athleticism to make a move to the hole if nothing opens up. I just thought that by moving a PF through a trade the Suns could free up some playing time for others. I really think that Beasley is better suited for the 4 spot and should be utilized that way. I think Schwartz actually wrote a peice in that earlier in the season. ESPN actually has an interesting article on small ball right now that focuses on stretch PF’s, which is what Beezy really is. Go Suns.

    (I apologize if someone else from VOTS wrote that article and I gave credit to Schwartz, I’m just too lazy to look it up right now.)

  • Ty-Sun

    If Beasley can start to string together a few good games, then I’ll start to believe. Morris hasn’t been playing really well so maybe Beasley should be given a shot as Scola’s backup at the 4 to give him time to prove himself. While I do like Morris, I don’t see him as ever being more than a career backup in the NBA.

    But back to Beasley… at times I think he’s better at the 3 and at other times he’s better at the 4. That’s the definition of a positional “tweener”. I actually think that Beasley would play best at the 4 with Frye playing the 5. Opposing 5′s would have to respect Frye’s outside game which would give Beasley more room to operate inside where he’s at his best as a scorer.

  • Cam

    The biggest issue with Beasley, and I think we have all commented on it at one point or another this year, is that he is a revolving door on defense. Because of that, unless he starts to become more efficient on offense, he will continue to hurt the Suns more than help while on the court. I hope that he figures it out, I had such high hopes when they signed him in the offseason. Go Suns.

  • Ty-Sun


    That’s one of the reasons why I suggested that the Suns should give Beasley more minutes at the 4 on the second unit. If he can rack up some points there, I don’t think his lack of D will hurt very much.

  • Tony

    Nice win for the Suns, especially since it was completely unexpected. In my opinion, Beasley was the key in this game. Scola’s production on the offensive end has been pretty consistent all season, and so I think that Beasley’s production off the bench frustrated the Bulls and lifted the Suns overall confidence.

    As far as Dragic is concerned, it seems to me that the only player he really has good chemistry with is Scola. Now that may just be because of his time spent playing with him in Houston, but regardless, Dragic has to develop that same comfortability he has with Scola with the rest of his teammates.

    With that said, if Beasley starts to show consistent improvement, the next question becomes will it be at Dragic’s expense? In other words, Beasley is most effective with the ball in his hands, similar to Dragic in that regard, so what happens when both are on the floor at the same time? Since neither are very good shooters, I don’t see how they can be effective playing together.

    However, this was only one game and based on Beasley’s past performances, he is unlikely to follow up on last night’s game with consistent improvement, thus mooting the issue of him playing with Dragic anyway. In all likelihood, the Suns win last night was more the result of a tired Bulls team still coming off their high from their win against the Knicks the previous night. They likely took the Suns for granted and as a result, didn’t have their focus.

  • Ty-Sun

    Yes, the Bull’s were tired from their win against NY but the Suns also had to be tired after their loss against Brooklyn. That makes me think that fatigue wasn’t a great factor in this game. The “X-factor” in this win was Beasley stepping up and playing well for a change.

    Hopefully he will continue to do that.

  • bk

    Beasley finally played like a PF without shooting 3.

  • Cam

    What the hell! Watching the Lakers game. Since when has Earl Clark become a threat on the court? Lakers don’t look like they are gonna lose tonight. That sucks. Go Suns.

  • azbballfan

    Im not sure what we could get in deal that send Gortat, Marshall and Morris packing

    I agree that Morris and Marshall were picked too high

    I expect more than 8 points and 4 boards for a player touted as a safe pick and a nba ready prospect

    However he is still only like what 22

    It worries me that Marshall didnt set the D-league on fire when he was with Bakersfield

    If Marshall was from a small college instead of going to north carolina would he have gotten all the exposure?

    he has so many hard to find qualities that make me want to like him, leadership, team first, a winner ect

    But he has no jump shot, cant play d and isnt athletic

    pass first pure points with those negatives are never lottery picks unless your the Suns and you dont know if you get anyone in free agency and your franchises greatest player is walking out the door to staples center

    I dont think Marshall gets a shot with the Suns if they continue this ‘lets win now” philosophy

    If he gets 4 minutes in a blow out loss, theres no chance of him getting minutes barring some event where dragic and telfair get simultaneously incopasitated

    The Suns play 2 games in 2 weeks after tomorrows likely loss at home against the Thunder

    I would hope the Suns have made a decision about what they want to do for the future

    waiting until the deadline is not necessarily going to get you a better deal

    I would be happy with anything that doesnt destroy future flexibility and give away our one, possibly two lotto picks

    The draft may be weak but when you have two picks in the 1st ten spots that doesnt really matter

    would Gortat, Morris and Marshall to Boston work for Fab Melo, Courtney Lee, and Avery Bradley?

    ESPN trade machine says Marshall would have to be dealt separately

    but Morris and Gortat would work for lee, bradley and melo

    i would do that trade in a heart beat

    I wish Marshall luck, and the good thing is, you can fix his jump shot and defense weaknesses (usually)

  • bill.thomas

    I know what Gentry said to get them fired up to win.

    Since it was Chicago, he probably said: “Win one for the Gipper!”

  • Scott

    What I think people tend to forget regarding the Marshall pick is that for years the Suns lollygagged about finding a backup and potential replacement for Nash. IIRC, Dragic was about the only PG they picked that could remotely fill that role, and the FO had already traded him away, saying he wasn’t a very good player. It wasn’t easy to find a good PG at the time, and it looked like the FO wasn’t even trying, because who they picked was Telfair.

    So when the Suns determined to give Nash an assist to the Lakers (more like a turnover), they had no recourse for PG aside from Telfair. That made Marshall slightly more attractive than maybe he should have been, if you’re comparing picks without regard to team need.

    So when you think about Marshall, think about the Marshall Plan: there was no plan in place for a PG. When the draft came around, it was “break glass in case of emergency.”

  • Scott

    BTW … regarding Earl Clark … I was against picking him in the draft. But now, after 3 years of development with different teams, he’s an above average player.

    His PER is 16.89. That would make him the fourth best player on the Suns (and he’s almost a full point better than Dudley).

  • azbballfan

    Clark played well for Orlando even though i know almost no one noticed

    Its really hard to tell whos fault it is when our players dont develop

    nearly every player we let go seems to be better off on the next team than he is on the Suns

    is it the front office?

    its it the coaching? the player development guys?

    The Suns will be bad or mediocre for as long as they dont develop their own guys

    looking at the numbers lopez is posting in Norleans, he is doing similar production to Gortat in less minutes

    Yet, the front office liked Gortat better

    and now Gortot doesnt even wanna be here, or we have to pay him big money to stay

    Lopez is playing like 26 minutes a game getting them 11 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks

    Gortat is 32 minutes 11, 9 boards and 2 blocks

    im sure if Lopez played more his rebounding would be better

    considering the 6 and 3 and 1 Lopez managed a year ago this year has to be seen as a big, big improvement

    im inclined to put this on player development people because the FO drafted these guys but as soon as they leave they post better numbers most times

    obviously the scouts cant be wrong all the time

    i hope babby and blanks reads this and has a lightbulb come on, because we gotta start developing our own guys

  • Cam

    I don’t think Boston will give up Bradley. I think that Fab and Courtney and a 1st is quite possibly the best the Suns could do. I think a better trade would be to OKC like some others had pointed out on these posts. Gortat for Perkins, Lamb/Perry Jones 3 and a first (hopefully Torontos but I doubt it) would be sweet. That would actually give me faith in the Suns FO. Presto is a master GM so if anyone got fleeced I think it would more likely be the Suns on the losing end of any trade with OKC. But who knows? Go Suns.

  • azbballfan

    I would take the Celtics deal with or without bradley, and i would take that OKC deal as well where we get Perry Jones III

    i think we would have to throw in something special to get bradley, and i dont really know what the Celts would want

    I see that Ibaka got injured and we play them next

    maybe we showcase gortat and show them how he could help them?

    OKC went to the finals last year i think they would do that deal with us

    Jones could turn out to be a good peice, perkins can man the pivot while we find a center of the future

    the suns can then turn around take that late 1st rounder, and package it with some others 1sts like the wolves pick, and get a player they really want

    so our lineup would be something like

    Dragic, 1st lotto pick, dudley, jones, perkins

    bench guys marshall pj tucker, frye, ect

    The Suns get lucky and they could get Nerlens Noel , Bennett, or any real good 4 with upside

    that lineup would turn into

    dragic, lotto, jones, lotto, perkins

    i am assuming Scola is gone after this year

    sounds good to me

  • john

    How did Kendall Marshall do in his 0:42?

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    He missed a triple double by one rebound. Damn.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Here’s an interview with Gentry on for those of you that haven’t read it. Some of it is interesting, and some of it is usual interview b.s.

  • cdubbb

    Gortat and Beasley to OKC for Perkins, Lamb, and Liggins.

    Draft Mclemore/Poythress/Shabazz/Goodwin/Olynyk/Noel…

    Sign Al Jefferson.

    Dragic, Lamb, Dudley, Morris, Jefferson

    Marshall, lotto, Johnson, LA pick, Perkins

    Work the young guys in. If our picks cant play their way into the starting rotation then we picked the wrong players.

  • Keith

    Some of you guys talking crap about Morris are off base. He’s played well the past few games, especially defensively. And someone said they expect him to get more than 8 pts and 4 rebs? How the hell can he do that when he’s playing 15 mins a game? Morris is going to be a solid player but just hasn’t gotten the minutes yet. He is inconsistent, but given more minutes, he’ll be fine. He’s no superstar, but he is what we thought he was when we drafted.

  • cdubbb


    I agree 100%. Hes even better then expected coming out of the draft. He has skills on the court and his shot will only get better with more time. His D and Reb are good to. As long as he can keep his motor up he is gonna be good.

  • Scott

    @azbballfan -

    We know some of the problems with developing young players came from D’Antoni, who basically did not want to do it, period.

    I think Gentry – while not of the same mold as D’Antoni – also has player development as a weakness, not a strength.

    That’s why lately I’ve been advocating McMillan. Whatever it was he was doing seemed to do okay with both vets and rookies.

  • Scott

    @Fan in Chi Town -

    Thanks for the link!

    The line that surprised me most was at the end, where Gentry describes Wes Johnson as a cerebral guy. I wasn’t expecting that. He also said, “He’s going to be a good player in this league.”

    So … are we to assume the Suns are trying to develop Johnson? If so, I’d like to hear more about that.