What: Phoenix Suns vs. Chicago Bulls
When: 6:00PM AZ time
Where: United Center, Chicago
Local TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Local Radio: 98.7 FM
This whole losing 8 of 9 games thing for the Phoenix Suns kinda started against the Chicago Bulls a couple weeks ago. The Suns had just won three straight games in impressive fashion to go 6-4 on the season, but Jimmy Butler finished off the Suns in Phoenix with a stupendous fourth quarter that started a downward slide in that direction for the past 2+ weeks.
Begun when Butler helped the Bulls overcome a deficit in Phoenix on Nov. 18 to win 103-97, the Suns have lost 9 of their past 11 games. In 9 of those 11 games, the Suns had a fourth quarter lead and were at least tied in the closing minutes. But they could only close out 2 wins in those 9 games. The other two games were blowout losses to the two best teams in the NBA this season.
The Bulls loss, the two losses to the Pelicans, and the four most recent road losses have scuttled the Suns best plans to get off to a fast start this season while deciding what to do with "floating-along" Markieff Morris.
In each of those games, the Suns played at least 36 - sometimes 47 - really good minutes and could be on a strong winning streak. But a series of bone-lead plays by the playmakers, as well as everyone else on the roster basically, and questionable play calls and rotations by the coach have the Suns looking like the grandma that got run over by a reindeer.
Before this season, Markieff Morris had a bit of a mystique about him. He would mostly stay quiet, and often looked incredibly slow on the basketball court, but his production and attitude toward other teams made him a quality NBA starter. Mostly, his under-the-surface intensity was a redeeming quality to make him successful.
But without his brother this season, that under-the-surface intensity seems to be snuffed out. As if cold water was poured on the campfire of his heart. He's going through the motions, but there's no driving force helping him succeed.
Coach Jeff Hornacek has finally made a move, first bringing him off the bench and then sitting him entirely, to try to re-light that fire. Maybe it will work. The Suns need an engaged, fired-up Morris to succeed this season (or trade value that replaces what they need), so Hornacek is trying things to fire him up.
Keeping him in the starting lineup while playing poorly didn't work. Bringing him off the bench didn't work. Maybe giving him a DNP-CD will work. Who knows.
For now, I don't think he's Markieff Morris anymore. He's not Chief Keef. He's not even Keef.
For now, we might ought to just call him Mark. A nondescript, anyone and everyone name.
Mark Morris, bench player and sometimes contributor.
They're not world beaters, but they're at the top of the East and we saw a couple weeks ago why. Jimmy Butler and company know how to win games, and their bench players step up when needed.
Their defense continues to be stellar (3rd overall) while their offense just barely gets by (27th). But against the Suns porous defense, the Bulls will probably look like world beaters.
It might be music to Suns fans ears that Derrick Rose is healthy again, likely limiting the minutes of Suns killers Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich who have been mostly non-factors EXCEPT against the Suns.
Dougie Buckets has been playing well lately, so it will be fun to see who's making the biggest impact: Dougie Buckets or Tony Buckets.
Why not. Suns get off the mat to finish out a win.
THIS IS THE BRIGHT SIDE!