Suns Can't Shake Off Bulls at Chicago
The Suns were missing star guard Eric Bledsoe (knee) and their usual game-day routine after arriving in frostbitten Chicago some 17 hours later than planned.
The Bulls were missing roughly 50 points per game due to the absence of Derrick Rose (knee), Carlos Boozer (knee) and Luol Deng (traded Monday night).
Phoenix lost the battle between the depleted teams on Tuesday night, dropping the first contest of a five-game road trip, 92-87.
The offensive showing wasn’t pretty from either club, but the Suns suffered the worst of it by shooting 40 percent from the field, including 6-of-23 from beyond the arc. Chicago added to their woes, out-rebounding them by nine and logging 14 more assists than the Suns despite hitting just three more field goals.
Even with the weight of those numbers and a terrible day’s worth of travel hanging over them, the Suns still managed to remain within striking distance throughout the game. Goran Dragic scored nine points in the third quarter to trim a nine-point deficit to five.
The Bulls extended their lead to double digits in the fourth, but again Phoenix fought back. Ish Smith whipped a no-look pass to Miles Plumlee (11 points, three steals, two blocks) for an easy dunk. Channing Frye made a three-pointer off a Gerald Green pass. Dragic (21 points) lofted a high bank shot over Taj Gibson. The 7-0 run left the Suns trailing by just four with 3:56 remaining.
Kirk Hinrich answered for the Bulls, hitting a three-pointer to push the lead back to seven. Phoenix couldn’t respond, turning the ball over twice in the closing minutes.
Eleven Suns players logged time for Phoenix in the first half, including six-foot point guard Ish Smith. The fourth-year pro is averaging 20.7 minutes, 7.0 points and 5.0 assists over the last three games.
Alex Len logged his first game action since Nov. 20. The first-year big man played six minutes, contributing an offensive rebound and a putback in traffic before finishing with three points and two rebounds.
The loss marked the first time Phoenix has lost two of their previous three games since Dec. 3, when the Suns lost at Memphis following a defeat to Utah.