The Bulls have now won four straight. Jimmy Butler was the Bulls hero in a 103-97 win in Phoenix on Wednesday night, scoring 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting, 3-for-7 on threes, and 7-for-8 from the line.
After being outscored 52-41 in the middle two quarters, the Bulls were only up 72-70 going into the 4th quarter. But, move over, Rover, and let Jimmy take over!
Butler scored 14 gimme the damn ball points in the final frame to put the Suns away in the final frame of a game that was more lopsided than the scoreboard showed. The Bulls shot 49.4% from the field, including a 9-for-19 night beyond the arc for what should have been the efficient offense to blow out Phoenix.
The 19 turnovers killed so many possessions to put a womp-womp on the affair and make the night harder than it should have been. Tyson Chandler preventing penetration forced some awkward big man shots from the free throw circle on broken plays, but the halfcourt offense created great looks and scored efficiently when the ball could get up in the air.
Kirk Hinrich started in place of Derrick Rose (ankle) and worse than his box score (14 points on 6-for-7, 6 assists, 1 turnover) in 23:32 of play. He held the ball too long in spots and was on top of teammates off the ball to kill some spacing, but really didn't hurt the Bulls offense as much as we all know he can. Defensively, he doesn't have the feet he used to, but Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and Nikola Mirotic were just good enough behind Hinrich and Aaron Brooks to contain Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.
Overall, the defense was relatively impressive. A rare night for the bigs to move on a string with the opponents' spacing. The 23 fast break points on 19 turnovers really morphed the night. Other than the fastbreak, Phoenix shot 28-for-75 (37.3%) from the floor, resorting to P.J. Tucker throwing up 15 shots--halfcourt defense we can take all night from this Bulls team. Bulls gave up 46 in the paint, but that will just happen when facing a backcourt like Bledsoe-Knight, who only combined for 44 points on 44 shots.
Brooks was a hot mess before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. He tried to force the ball inside on Alex Len, scored 12 points in under 20 minutes on 5-for-7 (2-for-2 on threes), but his four turnovers continued his misunderstanding of the offense and contributed heavily to the Suns strong second and third quarters. All in all, he was the leading scorer off the bench. E'Twaun Moore was a bigger mess, really struggling to move his feet effectively to get back on defense in transition, communicate with teammates in the halfcourt, and matchup with anyone.
Five Bulls scored in double figures. Nikola Mirotic's shooting woes continued with a 4-for-12 shooting night for ten points, thanks to shooting 2-for-5 beyond the arc. Tony Snell started at the three, played around 19 minutes, bricked all three of his shots, left Tucker wide open way too often, and turned the ball over three times, otherwise disappearing.
The Bulls out-rebounded the Suns 36-29, but Chandler had one of those nights on the offensive glass. Chandler's five offensive rebounds were just a part of the 14 grabbed by the Suns for 11 second chance points. Cheers to the Bulls for resetting their halfcourt defense in those spots, though, as you'll take a 9-for-14 success rate when giving up those boards.
Rose will be a gametime decision for the Bulls' next game, Friday night at the Oracle Arena against, you know, just the Warriors.
Stats via NBA.com [pdf].