The Chicago Bulls needed a win badly after two tough losses on their Western tour, and bringing their defensive best with a much better offense than usual did the job in a 101-92 win over the Phoenix Suns, who were riding a hot streak going into the game.
The Bulls were buoyed by Joakim Noah only paying a fine and not getting suspended for his choice words towards officials in the loss to the Sacramento Kings which ended out to be a rough 29 point loss. Noah had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the win over the Suns, as five Chicago Bulls players scored in double figures while the team shot a decent 45% from the field, which is actually quite impressive for the Bulls this season.
You could have used an excuse if you chose to do so, but that’s what I love about the team. They come out and they’re going to fight. They picked themselves up and did it together, and you could tell in the first quarter the commitment to get back, the commitment to get to put their bodies in front of people and take charges, make hustle plays, make effort plays.
It hasn’t been long since Carlos Boozer complained about his minutes and especially getting benched in the fourth quarter. He was the team’s leading scorer with 19 points on 9-of-21 from the field, adding 12 rebounds. In a turnover filled game, it was the Bulls’ ability to force the Suns into bad shots (38.8% from the field) that did most of the job, not just the surprising offense that managed to keep up with the pace the Suns were trying to set.
We got punched in the mouth in New Orleans, we got punched in the mouth in Sacramento, and we just wanted to come out and compete for 48 minutes as a team.
Jimmy Butler and D.J. Augustin both finished the game scoring 18 points as the Bulls scored 22 points off the 21 turnovers by the Suns in the game. The Bulls continue to use a very limited rotation, with only two players coming off the bench (Gibson and Augustin) to play more than 10 minutes, but even on back to back nights there didn’t seem to be any kind of fatigue getting in the way.
That’s the difference of a team that really gets after it defensively and makes it tough on all the shots. They took us out of our stuff but we let them do whatever they wanted. We gave up so much easy stuff. We didn’t bring it, no energy and we didn’t do smart plays. They did not let us run our actions. They were denying our big guys. It was just hard to pass and cut.
The Suns got 24 points from Goran Dragic, but that was about it. These are the kind of games that make them miss the injured Eric Bledsoe, who has missed almost a quarter of a season by this point. Teams with good and well prepared defenses have the ability to make things very hard for Dragic as a creator, and the rest of the team can’t really create points for itself.