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Phoenix Suns Locker Room Report: What the coach, players said of win over Chicago Bulls

This young Phoenix Suns team (28-20) has played great on national television over the last couple of years, now rising to 5-0 in such settings after beating the Chicago Bulls (30-19) at home on Friday night.

The arena was full for only the second time all season, aided by a large host of Bulls fans who cheered as loudly on Bulls makes as the Suns fans cheered on great home team plays. Even the opening lineup announcements were met with loud ovations for each team.

But this phenomenon is (a) not uncommon for a transient city everyone wants to move to and (b) no surprise given that it's a Chicago team. Visiting Chicago teams to the Phoenix area have always generated extra ticket sales at Diamondback games, Cardinals games and Suns games. Last night was no exception.

It was nice to see the home team handle by burying the tired the Bulls in the first 1.5 quarters to stake a 40-25 lead that proved too much for the Bulls to overcome.

"They're a hard matchup," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said afterward. "When you have two point guards on the floor at all times, and you've got the fours that can really pick-and-pop or a long close out for our bigs is kind of tough for them sometimes. They are a hard team to defend the way that they play. We did a poor job of getting back in the first half. In the second half, they we came a little back, but it was too late."

"Hey, it's okay as long as we win," Goran Dragic said of the Suns recent pattern of building big leads, then giving it away before closing out a grinding win.

Dragic's 21 points were his 4th such outing in the 8-game homestand.

Backup center Brandan Wright had 8 points and 5 rebounds in some very important minutes, as Alex Len was tested early and often by Pau Gasol and he and Markieff Morris both got into foul trouble.

The sneaky story of the game was that, despite the Suns mustering only 13 points in the third quarter and needing some kind of spark, shooting guard Gerald Green got a DNP-CD for the first time in his Suns career.

"Yeah, I just didn't," coach Hornacek said of not playing Green. "I wanted Goran and Eric in there most of the time and then with Isaiah taking some of those minutes, we just kind of squeezed him tonight. But tomorrow night could be his night where he plays a lot of minutes and does a great job for us. All of our guys, just the way it was tonight."

Hornacek says he did not decide to sit Green in any premeditated way, that it's just worked out that way due to matchups.

"No, I didn't know [Green] wasn't going to play," he said. "I didn't go into the game saying I wasn't going to play him. It just happened to be the way Goran and Eric were playing and then Isaiah with those other minutes. Tuck was doing a great job fighting with Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Butler's a great player. And then Marcus had his minutes on him. It was just one of those things."

Additionally, the Bulls spent much of the night pairing Aaron Brooks (21 points) with Derrick Rose, putting Jimmy Butler at the small forward spot along with two long big men at the 4 and 5. Hornacek needed Tucker/Marcus on Butler in those lineups, rotating Dragic/Bledsoe/Thomas on Rose and Brooks.

Bledsoe had 23 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and three steals, playing tough defense on Derrick Rose along the way. Dragic had 21, 4 and 1 with two blocks. They each made half their shots while holding the Bulls guards to low percentages.

The Brooks/Thomas matchup did not really go in the Suns favor in this game, though.

Brooks, who once has a cup of coffee in Phoenix as you might remember, was always a fiesty guy. On Friday, in Phoenix, he showed more fiest than he ever showed in a Suns uniform. He was an effective player in their scheme, and made some big three pointers to keep the Bulls in the game.

On whether Hornacek thought he might have an advantage, opposing Brooks with scoring master Thomas, he quipped, "Not necessarily because that guy can put it in the hole. I don't know what he ended up shooting...he was 8-for-13. So he played well."

But the one takeaway I have from Brooks is that, to my eye, he made Isaiah Thomas look big. Maybe that's just my orange-colored glasses talking.

Back to Green. A pending trade is the most unlikely reason Green sat. For one thing, it would have been easy to list Green as inactive with an "illness" if the intention was to sit him out. He wouldn't even have been at the game, likely. For another, Green took the benching quite well, jumping up and cheering his teammates all night long. And finally, he sat himself at the very end of the bench all night long, right next to the other guys who don't play.

Postgame, Green said he had no idea he wasn't going to play, and that it was a coaches decision. "I'm always ready," he said to Coro.

Still, Green hasn't been completely out of the rotation before, so you figure there had to be some kind of reason behind the scenes that they didn't want to make public. It's possible there was some kind of team rule broken, leading to Hornacek being predisposed to sitting him if possible without drawing a media swarm of questions.

Or, we could take their words at face value and say it was matchups.

Tonight, it's a HUGE test on the road against a Golden State team that's lost two games in a row, including a decisive loss at Utah where they were down 10+ points most of the game. Don't expect the Warriors to let up on the Suns like they might have done on lowly Utah, though. Expect a dogfight.

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