The Phoenix Suns would come into a hostile environment in the Windy City, throw the first proverbial punch in the first quarter, receive some jabs from the Chicago Bulls in the second, then come back in the final frames with two shots that the Bulls had no response for, and do so in a two-way manner that truly helped to display some of what this teams ceiling could potentially be.
The first half saw the Suns jump out early, via a tone set by Josh Okogie, who continues to find ways to impact the game in a manner that swings things in favor of the Suns.
He’d bring 13 points to their 40-point first-quarter efforts, including three-for-four from three. Past the attempts, it was the manner in which they came, as he’d knock down said attempts while being help-pointed off of by the likes of DeRozan and Beverley.
Whether he was one pass away, or in the corner opposite of a primary action, the Bulls were content on presenting an extra body over the helpline as the Suns attempted to - customarily - empty corners for pick-and-roll play.
In addition to Okogies offense and event-causing activity at the point of attack, was Devin Booker and his 16-point efforts in the opening frame. He’d find his way to the mid-range in a flow very similar to how he finished in Charlotte on Wednesday.
The starters would finish +8 in that frame and saw a very detailed offensive process and strategic execution - rooted in multiple screens and exacerbating presented advantages - lay the foundation of an attack that was proficient to the pace of an astronomical 156.5 half-court offensive rating.
They’d finish the quarter up 40-29.
The second saw an early boost from the “Point Book” bench lineup (+3), as well as solid play from the Durant-led bench variant (+2), however, they’d see the Bulls respond with some tough shots made, in addition to an uptick in defensive activity that saw they them make this one a back and forth affair into the break.
The third would see the Suns, in their best quarter, come out to an 18-10 start, behind a barrage of buckets from Booker and Durant, via pick-and-roll, isolation, transition, mid-post, on the block, and beyond the arc.
Their run would feature plenty of reps playing off advantages created by Kevin Durant, allowing for the other four Suns that happened to be sharing the floor with him to generate great looks.
Oftentimes, these looks would come initially from an outer third with Durant, where he was being double-teamed, then allow his gravity as a scorer to enable his passing ability, and stretch the defense. Making for the perfect and timely response to the answer presented from the defense in how to successfully operate against it.
This, in addition to Paul chipping in via their “Spain” pick-and-roll - punishing switches - and Okogie continuing to chip in off-script offensively, truly made for an indefensible look and feel to the offense, as they established scoreboard separation.
That start would balloon to 28-16, then continue into the fourth where they’d win that frame 31-19.
Foul trouble from Ayton presented an opportunity for Landale, who made the absolute most of the situation, and registered a +10 in the boxscore via some great rim protection, defensive activity, short-roll playmaking, and screening - operating in a manner similar to how Ayton would, just with more finesse than power.
Was truly an all-impressive performance, on both ends of the floor, from the usual suspects as well as ancillary players who were up to the task.
The Suns would finish with a half-court offensive rating of 123 (which would rank 97th percentile on the season), and 97.6 defensively.