Preview: Phoenix Suns (12-26) at Chicago Bulls (20-14)

Phoenix Suns 97, Chicago Bulls 81





Reeling from a second-half letdown at Brooklyn, the Suns will continue to look for answers on the fly out East.

Solutions to the Suns’ road woes (2-17) or their current losing streak (five straight and 11 of their last 12) will need to come at the expense of Chicago, a team that – like the Suns – currently lacks star power.

Unlike the Suns, they’re finding ways to make up for it.

Sans All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls (20-14) have managed to stay in the playoff race out East due to qualities the Suns sorely need – stubbornness, defense and the ability to will out wins when the talent doesn’t quite get them there.

While the Suns made the overnight trip to Chicago from Brooklyn, the Bulls made what was surely a much more cheerful flight from nearby New York after a quality win over New York despite 39 points from I-didn’t-think-I’d-get-suspended-for-stalking-KG Carmelo Anthony.

The win was Chicago’s fourth out of their last five games, with another of those victories coming at Miami.

In other words, everything that’s wrong with Phoenix is right with the Bulls right now.

The Suns are clearly a mess, one that is likely beyond repair. Rumors earlier this week of trade talks that would land Rudy Gay are distracting, entertaining even. They shift the focus off what the Suns (don’t) have to what they could get.

Michael Schwartz already expressed his opposition to such a move. It’s hard to argue, if for no other reason than this: what established, quality player would want to be dumped in this mess right now? There’s no potential for motivation or reawakening, something Rudy Gay appears to need in the midst of a bloated contract and a subpar season.

Unless help from the outside arrives, however, Phoenix appears resigned to its fate as a cellar-dweller.

If nothing else, the Suns can take a page (or book) from Chicago’s book Saturday night. Marcin Gortat can look at Joakim Noah and realize harsh words can be more effective directed at the opposition instead of teammates (harsh play underneath wouldn’t hurt either).

Shannon Brown (5-for-15 vs. Brooklyn) can take a lesson of efficiency from Richard Hamilton (6-of-9 vs. New York). Markieff Morris can take visual advice from Taj Gibson on how to be an impact big man off the bench.

Luis Scola can look at Carlos Boozer and…nevermind.

The point is, the Suns can look at how the Bulls took a poor turn of events (Rose’s injury, Boozer’s underachieving, etc.) and choose to fight through it instead of lying down.

Seeing that light turn on might be enough to get a Suns fan or two to sit up while they’re at it.

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