The Phoenix Suns and the Chicago Bulls are both trying to build around young players and are battling through the inconsistencies of youth, and things seem to be coming together for both. The Bulls will try to follow up their best offensive performance of the young season and earn back-to-back wins for the first time when they visit the Suns on Sunday.
Chicago owned the lowest-scoring offense in the NBA and was coming off a 92-79 loss at Oklahoma City when it exploded in a 123-120 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday that snapped a five-game slide. “It’s good for us to see what it takes, what it feels like,” Bulls guard Justin Holiday told reporters. “To play together and win a game. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of energy, competitiveness. Guys were serious about getting their jobs done.” Chicago could be in for another big offensive game against the Suns, who are last in the NBA in scoring defense (116.6 points) and gave up 90 points in the first half of a loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday before bouncing back the next night with a 122-113 win at the Los Angeles Lakers. “Our guys have a lot of pride in them,” interim Phoenix coach Jay Triano told reporters. “I think (Thursday) night hurt. We played a very good team and we knew that, but we still didn’t follow a lot of things we wanted to do. (Friday) we were more on task, we helped each other and provided support.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Arizona (Phoenix), NBCS Chicago
ABOUT THE BULLS (3-10): Chicago point guard Kris Dunn scored a career-high 22 points on Friday after going 1-of-11 from the floor in Wednesday’s loss to the Thunder. “The thing that excites me most about Kris, he was 10-for-16 and 2-for-2 from three, but the seven assists and one turnover,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. “That’s huge growth for Kris. He went out there and made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. He rose up with confidence when they went under (screens) on him, knocked down some huge shots for us when we were down in the fourth quarter. ... Just a really solid performance from Kris.” Dunn was one of the two main pieces coming back from Minnesota in the deal that sent Jimmy Butler away, and the Bulls are still waiting for Zach LaVine (knee) to make his debut.
ABOUT THE SUNS (6-11): Phoenix has a solid building block in guard Devin Booker, who went off for 33 points in Friday’s win and scored at least 33 in three of the last four games. The Kentucky product, who turned 21 on Oct. 30, leads the team in scoring (23.5 points) and is taking an active role in leading the offense of late with an average of 5.7 assists in the last six games, including 10 in Thursday’s 142-116 loss to the Rockets. Center Alex Len is trying to join Booker as a big part of the Suns’ future and delivered 17 points and 18 rebounds off the bench on Friday.
1. Suns C Tyson Chandler (illness) missed the last two games and is questionable for Sunday.
2. Bulls SF Denzel Valentine is 7-of-13 from 3-point range in the last two games.
3. The home team took each of the two meetings last season, and Chicago last won in Phoenix on Nov. 18, 2015.
PREDICTION: Suns 120, Bulls 113