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7 p.m., United Center, Chicago
The Chicago Bulls welcome the also-awful Phoenix Suns to the United Center for the second matchup between the two teams this season. The Bulls are in the midst of their second five-game losing streak of the season, and six would be a season high. The Suns have dropped three straight games, but have notched seven wins this season.
The Phoenix Suns beat the Chicago Bulls 113-105 nine days ago behind a 27-point effort from T.J. Warren and 64 points in the paint. The Suns also had 32 assists on 45 made field goals and six Suns players scored in double-digits. However, the Bulls did hold Devin Booker in check; the Suns best player had 15 points but only shot 5-for-15 from the field and only attempted three free throws. Suns beat writer Scott Bordow reported on Twitter today that Booker will play tonight after experiencing right big toe inflammation over the last few days.
The game was competitive throughout, and it took this now infamous Kris Dunn behind-the-back pass to put the game squarely out of reach for the Chicago Bulls.
Dunn beating himself up over this one. He's gotta cut these careless turnovers out, tries to be fancy on these passes way too often. pic.twitter.com/v9l7rUU5nX— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) November 20, 2017
Given the Bulls historic futility on West Coast trips, the result of this game shouldn’t surprise. The Bulls finished their recent mini West Coast trip 0-4, and outside of that game against the Suns have strayed from their supposed blueprint of ‘competitive losses’ recently by being on the bad end of several blowouts.
Lauri Markkanen has cooled off considerably after his sizzling start to his rookie campaign. The Bulls star has averaged 13.4 points on 32.4 percent shooting from the field (31.6 percent from 3-point land) over his last five games. In the first matchup between the two teams, he did torch the Suns for 26 points.
Surprisingly, it’s been Denzel Valentine who has stepped up through Markkanen’s slump. The NBA sophomore has averaged 10.4 points and has shot a scorching 50 percent from 3-point land over the last five games. Perhaps most impressively, he’s finally begun to flash the playmaking skills that helped him win the 2016 Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year. Against Miami on Sunday, he had a season-high seven assists and has averaged four assists per game over the last five games.
One more note: For those wondering, Zach LaVine didn’t forget how to dunk while he recovered from his ACL injury. According to The Athletic writer Darnell Mayberry, LaVine and Nikola Mirotic will practice with the Windy City Bulls this week when the Bulls head to Denver for a game on Thursday.