No Chris Paul, no problem as the Phoenix Suns (who were also without another starter, power forward Cam Johnson) easily obliterated your Chicago Bulls at the Footprint Center tonight, with a final margin of 132-113. For Phoenix, All-NBA shooting guard Devin Booker and max-salaried center Deandre Ayton did most of the damage as Phoenix won its sixth straight game to improve to a 15-6 record for the season.
Remember when we used to think Zach LaVine was just about as good as Devin Booker? One knee surgery later, that is no longer remotely the case.
Things started out relatively evenly. By the end of the first quarter, the Suns led only slightly, 32-25, but, in a harbinger of things to come, the Bulls started out shooting just 1-of-7 from deep for the frame. DeMar DeRozan was in his bag early, scoring eight points in the quarter, thanks to midrange jumpers and drives. Zach LaVine, meanwhile, at least proved aggressive in getting to the charity stripe often.
Nikola Vucevic also was active in the post offensively. Both Vucevic and LaVine scored five points in the period.
The Suns opened things up in the second quarter, thanks primarily to the unstoppable scoring of Devin Booker. The Bulls offered zero resistance as they were roundly outscored in the frame, 32-18. The Bulls didn’t make a single three for the entire second quarter, while the Suns made four in the period, going a cumulative 5-of-9 from long range to kick off the first half. Booker had 25 points in the first half, while Ayton had 16 points and nine rebounds. The Suns led 64-43 at the break.
In the third quarter, Devin Booker put the finishing touches on his masterpiece, scoring 26 points. A lot of his offense was relatively unstoppable thanks to some unreal takes, but the Bulls also did themselves no favors while often botching Booker coverages (Ayo Dosunmu especially struggled).
Donovan was really mad at Ayo when he called time.— Mark K (@mkhoops) December 1, 2022
Here's why: Looks as if the Bulls were in zone, but Ayo forgets, picks up Payne in the corner, only to realise too late he's meant to be in zone -- misses the help rotation, allowing Booker to get inside way too easily. pic.twitter.com/GLaoEnRwIp
The Suns led by as many as 23 points in the frame. At the end of the period, Devin Booker had 51 points on 20-of-25 shooting (6-of-7 from deep) and six dimes. Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 12 rebounds through the first three quarters. Booker especially just could not be stopped:
DeMar DeRozan was the only Bull who really looked ready to play, at least on offense. He had 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting through the third quarter.
Here was Booker’s final bucket, appropriately enough it came at the expense of the Bulls:
Phoenix led 106-81 after three, and the game was more or less over after that. Booker didn’t play a single second in the quarter, but for some reason Billy Donovan continued to trot out his roster mainstays, keeping them in the fourth quarter despite the game already being well out-of-hand. He finally surrendered at the 3:16 mark, and we got a Dalen Terry/Tony Bradley sighting.
Deandre Ayton finished with a season-high 30 points (on 11-of-17 shooting), along with 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, and he wasn’t even the most dominant Suns player on the floor! Like Booker, the Bulls frequently lost Ayton on defense throughout the game, allowing him to roll to the rim with ease:
Bad defensive breakdown leads to an Ayton and-1.— Will Gottlieb (@Will_Gottlieb) December 1, 2022
Don't typically see Vooch this angry and animated. He's directing it at Ayo, but believe that is actually Zach's assignment as the low man. pic.twitter.com/AvhvYhobWl
And here’s another one:
DominAYTON putting pressure on the rim! pic.twitter.com/Bc8VapTtnH— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 1, 2022
Perhaps most egregiously of all, the Bulls shot a miserable 4-of-25 from deep, a far cry from the Suns’ 15-of-33 shooting from long range tonight (i.e. a 33-point difference in takes beyond the arc). Phoenix also out-rebounded Chicago 46-35. Patrick Williams had another Bad Pat game, scoring his only two points on a pair of free throws with the game already all but over in the fourth quarter. Whether it’s Dosunmu or Williams, it does feel like Chicago may need to make a change to its starting lineup soon. Alex Caruso, who can legitimately defend four positions, might make the most basketball sense.
With the loss, Chicago fell to a 9-12 record on the season, and will next face off against another high-scoring club, the Golden State Warriors, at Chase Center on Friday. Yikes.