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Bulls vs. Suns Recap: Pourous Defense Dooms Chicago in 113-105 Defeat to Phoenix

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Lauri Markkanen played very well, but a poor team-wide effort towards guarding the paint ensured the Bulls would never win this game.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls traveled to Phoenix on Sunday night to begin the start of a late September road trip, and unsurprisingly fell to the Suns by a final score of 113-105. Lauri Markkanen played a great game, scoring 26 points on 10-18 shooting from the field (4-9 from 3-PT range) while also adding 13 rebounds, but the Bulls allowed the Suns to rip off 64 points in the paint for the evening as six Suns players scored in double figures.

Most of this contest was extremely back-and-forth, with neither team really allowing the other to break the lead open in the first half. The Bulls had a bit of an advantage early thanks to a 37 point first quarter powered by great performances from Markkanen, Robin Lopez, and Kris Dunn; but a poor start to the second quarter allowed the Suns to immediately tie the game on a 7-0 run. The Suns would rip off another run towards the end of the half to give them a 61-56 lead over the Bulls, as the latter desperately spent the 2nd quarter chucking threes to no avail.

Not much changed from the first half to the second, as the Bulls players that had played well up to that point continued to do so and those that struggled earlier kept up their poor efforts. Markkanen continued to shoot well, Lopez characteristically kept snagging offensive rebounds, and Dunn looked not too shabby when tasked with running the offense. However, Justin Holiday spent most of the game hurling the ball towards the rim at every available opportunity, and his 3-10 shooting performance from distance served as a big contribution to the Bulls’ overall lackluster 3-PT shooting on the evening (12-36 as a team). Furthermore, Jerian Grant looked totally lost as the Bulls’ starting point guard, and Denzel Valentine tallied only nine points on 3-10 shooting from the field despite leading the Bulls with 37 minutes played on the night.

The Bulls actually had this game within five points with a little over a minute remaining in the game, but Dunn—after snagging a defensive rebound and pushing the ball up the floor—threw an incredibly bone-headed behind-the-back pass out of bounds to give the Suns back the ball. Josh Jackson sank two freethrows on the next possession, and that would pretty much seal the deal for Chicago with under a minute remaining. The loss served as the Bulls’ 11th thus far on the season, and the Bulls still have yet to win consecutive games now a month into their NBA schedule.

The Bulls will play next on Tuesday night against Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers.