The Bulls and Suns had a wildly fluctuating game but Phoenix never trailed after the 1st quarter as they went on to win 104-99 and hand the Bulls their 6th straight loss. It was also the second loss to this fellow bottom-feeding opponent in as many weeks.
The Bulls died and sorta lived (flopping around like a fish out of water?) by the three in this one. They hoisted up 40 attempts and converted 40 percent, that’s pretty damned good! But they also only shot 40 percent on two-pointers (I swear Robin Lopez missed 12 tip-ins) and went a paltry 7-10 from the line.
It was a wild haves and have-nots when it came to the 3 point shooting. Justin Holiday went 6-9 and Kris Dunn went 4-5 to be the team’s leading scorers at 25 and 24 points respectively. But Lauri Markannen went 3-11 from distance, Denzel Valentine was 1-5 (and living that #BullsCulture by not getting another attempt up at the end of the first half) and Paul Zipser went 0-4.
The Bulls offense vacillated between the helter-skelter and the solid when it came to these attempts. There were times where the looks were open and within the offense after breaking down the Suns with ball movement, there were other times where they just ran and chucked pull-ups.
And when it was the latter was when the Suns would make their runs. After an even first, there was a 2nd quarter where both teams were awful to put up 32 points combined on 13/45 shooting. The Suns went on a quick run to open the third to go up 14 only to see the Bulls bench (Portis and Grant) chip it away...to then see Phoenix surge again to a 15 point lead in the opening minutes of the 4th. The Bulls kept hitting threes to keep things from getting out of hand, but never were within a single possession. The Bulls defense went small/bad to try generating turnovers, and they kinda did their job, but were also too often athletically overmatched and giving up easy inside looks and dunks.
Devin Booker was a game-high 33 points on 23 shot attempts. I thought Holiday and Dunn at times did a pretty decent job on him, but when he’s hitting stuff like this it’s tough to defend:
Devin Booker won the jump ball, then hit the 30 footer pic.twitter.com/6s6SVwJHFI— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) November 29, 2017
TJ Warren completely beasted Valentine for much of the night for 25 points (don’t worry, he’s a whole 2 months older), and Alex Len was dusted off (motivated?) to get 18 rebounds to go along with 13 points as well. As for the rest of their young ‘talent’, I mean as bad as Markkanen has looked lately he still seems leaps and bounds above the likes of Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. Josh Jackson only played 8 minutes and didn’t score.
The paradox of the Bulls performance in this one was exemplified by Kris Dunn. He started out the game hot (included a prayer three, but still) and hit a couple threes late in the Bulls desperation (not garbage though!) time to have a very nice line. But he also saw opponent Tyler Ulis blow by him several times to put up a nice game of his own, on offense had 5 more turnovers, a couple of which were really bad and all in the second half. He also had yet another play that may become his thing: great on defense but bad on offense.
Dunn had a chance to be the hero, big block by Booker to seal this one. pic.twitter.com/g2bQmSRu8P— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) November 29, 2017
So overall when looking at the metrics of this wretched season: they lost, were somewhat competitive, but didn’t really show much player development. Up next is a pretty brutally-traveled back-to-back with a Thursday game in Denver then hosting the Kings the following night.