Chicago Bulls 101, Phoenix Suns 92 -- Chicago-dogged

PHOENIX – These aren’t the lumbering Indiana Pacers. They’re not a Charlotte Bobcats team that slows it down because, as far as talent goes, they don’t have a choice whether or not to race it up and down.

It’s the Chicago Bulls, and the Chicago Bulls are going to do what what Tom Thibodeau always does. And they’re especially going to do it coming off a gut-check loss against the Sacramento Kings.

Against the Phoenix Suns, what they do just works.

The Suns dropped their second game of the year to the Bulls by a 101-92 score in a game that felt quite familiar to a 92-87 loss in Chicago just after Phoenix lost Eric Bledsoe to a knee injury.

It was ugly like Thibs likes it.

Chicago ended a hot streak for Suns guard Goran Dragic, and though he got his in the second half, he had no reinforcements to turn it into Phoenix’s sixth win in a row. Dragic scored 20 of his 24 in the second half, Channing Frye ended with 18 on 6-of-16 shooting, and nothing else other than Leandro Barbosa’s one move — driving to the hoop — had anything that could be called success.

Gerald Green scored five points on just 2-of-12 shooting, P.J. Tucker went 2-of-6, and Markieff Morris hit just 4-of-13 shots while turning the ball over five times.

As a team, Phoenix recorded 21 turnovers on on the night. They also fought frustration that revealed itself as three technical fouls and plenty of animated reactions to foul calls.

With a large group of Chicago fans in attendance, it almost felt like a neutral college basketball court.

The Suns recorded 13 first-half turnovers and were shooting just 30 percent from the floor. That, combined with an abysmal shooting night, led to a 44-33 halftime deficit, but while the Bulls deserved some amount of credit as usual, Phoenix also shot itself in the foot time and time again. There were throw-aways, two travels on catch-and-dribble moves by Gerald Green and poor awareness.

If the Suns were open, their teammates would miss them. When their teammates made the right decisions on drive-and-kick plays, the shooters didn’t have their feet set. Often times, it simply came down to poor shot selection playing into the hands of Chicago contesting most of Phoenix’s shot attempts.

The Suns turned the tempo back into their favor quite quickly in the third. A 13-6 run in the first three minutes brought the deficit to four.

On to the pregame questions from Jeff Sanders.

Do the Bulls come out with urgency?

Chicago seems destined to make a statement after flopping a night earlier at Sacramento. The first two of Goran Dragic’s shot attempts drew air, the Bulls seemed set on relentlessly driving to the basket, and Mike Dunleavy also slid in front of both Miles Plumlee and Dragic to draw charges early on as Chicago took a 17-6 lead early.

It was exactly what a perturbed Tom Thibodeau said he wanted from his team in the pregame media session.

While the Chicago media contingent only wanted to talk about Joakim Noah’s $15,000 fine earned from going Half-Baked on the referees from the 99-70 loss to the Kings – they also drew a “really?” from Thibs by asking him about DeMarcus Cousins talking down to Dunleavy afterward – Thibodeau kept it to basketball. The Bulls were doing the same.

Is it possible for Joakim Noah to be contained for two straight nights?

Noah appeared a bit more calm after learning of the $15,000 fine levied against him just before the game began, but he was no less of a terror on the court. He finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and was just one of many problems for the Suns, who struggled finishing around the hoop and on the perimeter.

Noah’s isolation hook shot off the glass with the shotclock winding down late in the fourth quarter just about said it all for the Suns on Tuesday.

Dragic’s encore?

You knew the Bulls were good enough to contain Dragic in the halfcourt, but it didn’t help he was one of few Suns willing to push the pace. Quickly after the Suns got down early on, Hornacek went to Markieff Morris and Leandro Barbosa to amp up the tempo, yet Morris decided to throw a halfcourt outlet to Channing Frye, who, as you might’ve guessed, wasn’t even looking to receive an outlet pass.

Dragic had four points on 1-for-6 shooting after the first half but obviously played a big part in making a few runs to get back into the game.

  • foreveris2long

    Tonight was a reminder why their power forwards are not very good in a physical game. Late in the game the Bulls had only 7 seconds left on the shot clock after a timeout. Boozer got the ball and just dribbled right around Frye for the lay up. That defense was terrible by Frye. He looked worse on defense than the Broncos on Sunday. Almost as bad was Ish going under the picks guarding Augustine in the 2nd half. We need a defensive 4 in the worst way.

    Tonight was also a reminder why Bledsoe and Dragic together make us a really good team. While Green has had a breakout year, he still has trouble getting to the rim when he is having a tough night. He tried to jump start his offense twice by starting his move to the basket without dribbling first.

    This playoff basketball was ugly tonight and like playing Memphis, exposes our weaknesses defensively and lack of low post offense. However I am not begging for a quick fix. I am patient.

  • vtsunrise

    That was ugly and tough to watch. Pockets of “yay” but overall, a reality check, a sad one, that against a bad match-up for them, like the Bulls, the Suns struggle.

    Tougher yet, is the fact that that was the first of five tough games in a row, each of which the Suns have a better chance of losing than winning. Before the Suns rose and began to exceed expectations, I initially had “L”s penciled in on that game plus @ HOU, hosting GSW, hosting MIA and @ DEN. Tough haul.

  • Jeremiah


    “Tougher yet, is the fact that that was the first of five tough games in a row, each of which the Suns have a better chance of losing than winning.”

    Completely agree with the first part of this sentence, but completely disagree with the 2nd part. The Suns are a good team and the only game out of the next 4 that I would say the Suns are more likely to lose than win is the Miami game and you could argue that the @HOU game as well because it’s on the road, but the Suns did manhandle the Rockets in their last match so we will just have to wait and see. Suns should be favored in both the GS and @DEN games. The Miami game will be interesting to see because though we struggled the first time we played them, this game will be on our court and will hopefully be an equalizer of sorts.

  • Rengaw

    This game was a vivid example of what a detriment to the team Green and Frye are when their shots are not falling. These guys are not rookies, they have been in the league a long time. They continue to make the same mistakes passing the ball, rushing shots, and defensively.

    When they are ringing the three ball, we tend to take a blind eye to the rest of their game, but a game like this one shines the spotlight on their weaknesses.


  • Emanuel

    Does anyone still think we dont need Gasol? that game was exactly where Gasol comes in…..a guy that can score inside when the game slows down, am saying this right now, if we had Gasol, we would of won this game easily……Chicago is not a good team right now, no Deng, no Rose……..we still lost, bring on Gasol please…..we need him………..Go Suns…..

  • EBJM

    I don’t think McD is going to do the Gasol deal because the Lakers are asking too much. At age 33 it isn’t worth it if it means giving up the two highest picks out of the four the Suns have.

    Everyone knows the Lakers haven’t taken long in the past to rebuild and for the Suns to ultimately succeed they need the Lakers to remain bad.

    They need to add players that will get them to the Thunder’s level, if not just be patient and wait.

  • vtsunrise

    I hope you’re right. I realize all the games coming up are pretty much toss-ups. So much appears to rest on the dynamics of each team’s match-ups. For whatever reason, the Suns have the number of the Blazers and Pacers – which COULD come in handy in the post-season. Not sure about each of the next 4 match-ups, but the Suns will have to be ON.

    The good news is they have tended to rise to the challenge of playing well against the best teams.

    If I could retract or correct my post, I’d say more like 50-50 rather than better chance to lose than win. No easy ones here.

  • Al

    Phoenix came out uninspired in the first half. It was one of the most boring 1st halves I’ve ever seen. Bulls may play good defense, but also play really boring basketball. Suns could just not get it going from the 3point line. Frye and Green specially missed too many shots. I’m surprised Chicago has been able to have quality Pg’s the three seasons DRose has been injured. First it was CJ Watson. Last year it was Nate Robinson. Now they have DJ Augustin. In the end, Phoenix dug themselves early with too many turnovers. Suns could go on a 4 game losing streak to the All Star break if they continue to play like this. They may be able to beat Houston and avenge the embarrassing lost to the Warriors, but Miami…it’d be nice to beat them before the break. Green needs to get out of his shooting slump and Frye needs to make his 3′s…

  • vtsunrise