So far, so good. The Chicago Bulls opened up their six game road trip with a 112-106 overtime victory in Phoenix against the Suns on Wednesday night.
If you’re someone who just cares about the end result, then the victory will probably make you happy, especially coming into a free basketball session where Joakim Noah nailed a 20-foot jumper to seal the game. And no, you didn’t read that incorrectly.
But if you’re someone who understands that the only reason this game even went into overtime was because of the Bulls' recurring issues in the fourth quarter, then the victory was rather unsettling. But a win is a win and after a disappointing loss to Boston, Bulls fans will take it.
Carlos Boozer (28 points, 14 rebounds) has, for whatever reason, been playing uninspired basketball of late. But being away from Chicago certainly seemed to spark his game as he came out in a good rhythm early and played well. He even saw valuable minutes in the fourth quarter where he’s played sparingly the last five games. Joakim Noah (21 points, 12 rebounds) has continued to perform at All-Star level and Luol Deng (21 points, five rebounds) had another solid outing, as did Nate Robinson (11 points, four assists) off the bench. Chicago shot 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line, where they’ve struggled this season.
The Bulls were outrebounded by the Suns, 51-46 with 20 of Phoenix’s boards coming on the offensive glass with reserve PJ Tucker grabbing seven of those. Chicago also couldn’t contain the Suns' other reserve, Markieff Morris, who nearly had a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds. Overall, the Phoenix bench was just better, outscoring Chicago 42-24.
Kirk Hinrich (three points, seven assists) got the start, but his hip injury is most likely still bothering him. Although he played 27 minutes and ran the offense well, he wasn’t even looking to score, taking just three shots in the game. As for the team itself, with 3:04 to go in the third quarter, the Bulls built an 18-point lead (79-61) and looked as if they had the game under control and were en route to a decisive victory. But 12 regulation minutes later – with 3:03 to go in the fourth quarter – the Suns had decimated that advantage, tying the game at 93 points apiece. In fact, Phoenix outscored Chicago 31-17 to force overtime. Of course the Bulls showed their trademark toughness, didn’t lose their poise down the stretch and found a way to win the game once again, but the lapses on defense that allowed another middling team to get back into the game is something that needs to be corrected in a hurry.