Tankers will rejoice that the Suns are now three full games ahead of the Bulls in the tank race, leaving the Suns in pole position for a bottom-three record and the highest chance to draft Zion Williamson in June (14%). The Bulls will likely only have a 12.5% chance. Those fools.
Personally, I’d have preferred a win, but here we are.
The Suns players didn’t want to tank at all, but they were down the wrong players and lost their entire newly-formed but not solidified, identity. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tyler Johnson, the architects of recent good play, were both out along with Richaun Holmes and, of course, T.J. Warren.
Add in that Booker couldn’t make a shot, while the Bulls were making everything, and you just have to flush this one down the toilet.
Consider it flushed.
Everything the Bulls tried worked. Everything the Suns tried failed. It happens.
Bulls 116, Suns 101.
Former Suns on the court tonight:
- Robin Lopez, 24 points, 7 rebounds
- Shaquille Harrison, 6 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds and an assist
Current Suns on the court tonight:
- Deandre Ayton, 25 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists, 3 steals and only 1 turnover
- Devin Booker, 25 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds
- Josh Jackson, 18 points, 7 rebounds
Out for the Bulls in this game: rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, Otto Porter Jr. and Denzel Valentine.
The Suns had Mikal Bridges replace Kelly Oubre Jr., and De’Anthony Melton replaced Tyler Johnson, to go along with Dragan Bender, Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.
Also out for the Suns, in addition to Oubre and Johnson, are Richaun Holmes and, of course, T.J. Warren.
Both teams started out active and aggressive. The Suns would have had a lead but Booker’s shooting was way off. He started the night off with misses on his first three shots — all open — and his first two free throws. Within six minutes he was 1-5 from the floor, 0-3 on threes and 0-2 from the line.
Still the Suns first two scores were nice: Booker dishing off to Ayton on the break, after a Melton steal, and then Melton to Bender for an alley-oop.
Looking good right? But Chicago was hitting on more cylinders, making four shots in the paint in the opening five minutes, plus 4-4 on free throws, and forced a Suns timeout when Kris Dunn made an open three to give the Bulls a 15-10 lead.
The Bulls lead grew to 23-16 with them being the aggressor on every possession. Robin Lopez made four of five shots in the post with his one-handed swing hooks (using the other arm to create separation) and Kris Dunn making his first three shots, combining for 17 of the Bulls’ first 23.
The first three off the Suns depleted bench were Ray Spalding (marking the fourth Suns rookie to take the floor), Jamal Crawford and Josh Jackson. Oof.
Bulls lead grew all the way to 34-20 after one, looking like the second coming of the six-time champion from the 90s. Their own beat writer, Sam Smith, commented the Bulls were lucky the Warriors decided to wear their uniforms tonight. lol. They made 14-24 shots in the quarter, with 12 of those in the paint. I haven’t seen so many spinning turnarounds in the paint all year, lol. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markannen, their high scorers, combined for only 6 of the Bulls’ 34 points.
The second quarter was worse, at least at first. The Suns got down 18 at one point, but a quick flurry from Ayton and Troy Daniels cut the lead to 10 to induce the Bulls to bring back their starters.
But the Bulls started hitting everything again. Lopez got up to 6-7 from the field, all on spin hooks, and the Bulls lead got back up to 19 very quickly.
The halftime lead for the Bulls was 13, leading 56-43.
The Suns couldn’t have played much worse, while the Bulls couldn’t have played much better.
Suns really really miss Tyler Johnson and Kelly Oubre. With Booker being “off” (3-11 from the field, not many of them contested tightly) and four of the eight other players being rookies, this is what they looked like during the 17-game losing streak on a bad night.
Good side: Deandre Ayton has 12 points, 7 rebounds and a assist and block in the first half.
Let’s see how the second half shakes out.
Right here, I am predicting a 5-point differential by the six minute mark of the third. Calling it.
Well, they had it to 8 at the 9-minute mark, and then 9 at the seven minute mark, but just could not control themselves at all.
Not one Phoenix Suns player was having a good game. Meanwhile Robin Lopez got himself up to 20 points (10 of 12 shooting) by the six-minute mark, and the game was 66-52 in favor of the Bulls.
None of Dragan Bender or the rookies could keep Lopez off the block or, in the second half, off the offensive glass.
Disgusting effort, really. And I am sure the Suns players would agree with me.
By the end of the third, the Suns were still down 13. They just couldn’t seem to do anything right.
Booker and Ayton both had 21 points, but no one else on the Suns was playing even par. The Suns were being outrebounded, outshot, out-three’d, out free throw’d, out-assisted. They deserved to be down 13.
The Suns started nice, but then couldn’t get out of their own way again. Jackson missed an and-one AND the second free throw (one point that could have been three), two Suns couldn’t corral a loose ball resulting in an easy Bulls layup, Bridges had an unnecessary turnover rather than taking an open 10 footer, Crawford missed a bunny, and Bender missed a high pass from Booker that turned into another Bulls breakaway. Bulls up by 14 again.