Simply saying the words, “the Phoenix Suns versus the Chicago Bulls” evokes memories, especially to any of us who are over 36 years old. We’re taken back to the early 90’s, an NBA landscape dominated by Michael Jordan. When Phoenix finally overcame their Western Conference hump, they were met by his Airness in the 1993 NBA Finals.
30 years later, while celebrating 90’s night, the Suns accomplished what they couldn’t all those years ago. Granted, this wasn’t for a ‘chip. But whenever you play the Bulls you just don’t forget.
Tonight it felt like Michael Jordan was on the court. Wearing a #1 jersey for the purple and orange. Embodied by Devin Booker.
With Dan Majerle in the house at the Footprint Center, Booker put on one helluva show. Booker set a career-high in points scored at home, dropping 51 points on 20-of-25 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep. Read that line again. Absorb that.
He did so in three quarters, ladies and gentlemen. Just 31 minutes played.
Devin Booker's 51 points is the second highest Sun total at home in team history, trailing only Tom Chamber's 60 point performance on March 24, 1990. @therealTC24— John Voita (@DarthVoita) December 1, 2022
Booker wasn’t alone, however. Deandre Ayton has another solid performance, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 boards with 2 blocks en route to another dominant performance by the Phoenix Suns big man.
Phoenix has now moved to 15-6 on the season after downing the Bulls 132-113. Phoenix has won their last six consecutive games and are 12-1 at home.
Here is how they did so on Wednesday night.
The Western Conference player of the week, Deandre Ayton, set the tone early for the Suns. He scored 11 of their first 16 points, doing so in a variety of ways. A 14-foot jumper, a dynamic hard roll to the basket for an easy layup, and pressure on the interior against Nikola Vucevic; DA looked engaged and hungry early on.
Cameron Payne his jumper working, looking crisp as he deposited five early points. DeMar DeRozan, someone eligible for what Suns’ announcer Kevin Ray dubbed the “Middy Committee”, was 4-of-4 for eight points early as well, all coming from his favorite place to score. The mid-range.
The second team unit for Chicago was full of familiar faces, including Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso, and Andre Drummond. They brought with them a different pace of play, much slower and methodical, as they focused more on defense than offense. That didn’t stop Devin Booker from scoring 9 points and adding 3 assists in the first quarter, including the buzzer beater.
After one: Phoenix 32, Chicago 25.
The second quarter began with Monty Williams rolling out a lineup that had Landry Shamet at the point, Damien Lee, Mikal, Bridges, Ish Wainwright, and Bismack Biyombo. Not sure if we’ve seen that combo yet this year, but in three minutes they were +5.
The Bulls, who are 30th in the NBA when it comes to taking three point shots, we’re having a hard time hitting them in this game. They were 1-of-14 (7.1%) from beyond the arc in the first half. Due to their lack of offensive rebounding, one and done possessions began to hurt them as Phoenix stretched their lead.
Ayton and Booker looked like All Stars in the second, taking turns against Chicago like nothing we’ve seen from them before. They did so with a variety of jumpers, alley-oops, and high percentage pick and roll shots.
DominAYTON putting pressure on the rim! pic.twitter.com/Bc8VapTtnH— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 1, 2022
Booker had 16 of his 25 points in the second, leading the Suns to a 21-point halftime lead. He added 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 9 boards.
Suns 64, Bulls 43 heading into the half.
Booker continued his hot shooting, nailing to early three-pointers in the third to push his point total over 30 points for the 8th time this season. He scored 23 of the Suns’ 25 points for a stretch between the second and third.
In short, Book was en fuego.
Devin Booker has 37 points on 79% shooting with 8:30 left in the 3rd quarter— evan (@evxz17) December 1, 2022
Ayton logged his seventh consecutive double-double when he snagged his 10th rebound early in the third quarter.
Chicago kept throwing different defenders and varying looks at Devin, but none of it mattered. He was in the type of zone only an All NBA player gets in. Booker crossed the 40-point threshold with 17 minutes still left in the game, and his 42nd point put the Suns up 90-68 with 4:24 left in the third.
BACK-TO-BACK 40-POINT GAMES FOR BOOK.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 1, 2022
Oh, you’re happy with 40? Not Booker.
A four-point play. A contested three-pointer. And, on a fast break, Devin broke on through to the other side of 50 points, scoring the most points he ever has in front of his home audience. D Book was 10-of-11 in the third, scoring 26 points.
Suns up 25 after three quarters.
The Bulls, down 110-92, found themselves in the penalty with 7:47 left in the game. Easy points lay ahead for Phoenix, which would stomp out any semblance of a Chicago comeback.
Deandre Ayton continued to display his new found physicality, banging bodies with Vucevic and winning the battle. He was getting deep post position and executing at will. DA is now 7-2 in his career against Vuce. Ayton held him to 17 points and 8 rebounds this bout.
Don’t let it be lost on you that DA is kicking some ass tonight.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) December 1, 2022
Monty had no need for Devin Booker in the fourth quarter. The Suns easily handled the Bulls, who shot 4-of-25 from the three-point line, defeating them by 19.
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton combined for 81 points.
I did it! I finally covered a game in which the Suns pulled out a victory! The jinx is over, the monkey is off of my back. Praise be to Booker.
The brief homestand continues on Friday as the Houston Rockets visit Phoenix. It’ll be a City Edition kind of night, so break out the turquoise!
See you then Bright Siders.