CHICAGO – As the end of the first half of the season approaches, many fans are wondering how much they want to believe in this particular Bulls’ team.
At 15-16 coming into Friday night’s game, the group is in the playoff race at the moment as they continue to surpass preseason expectations. They’d won three-straight games and could have moved up to as high as sixth in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
Take that for what it’s worth, but a win on Friday would have helped to gain more momentum, considering their opponent is one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Beat the Suns, the Bulls would have gotten up to .500 while earning one of their best wins of the season.
They managed to get about 75 percent of the way there before stumbling in the final 12 minutes.
Plagued by turnovers and lack of offensive rhythm, a seven-point lead after three quarters faded in a 106-97 loss to the Suns that drops them to 15-17 on the season. Outscored 32-16 in the final 12 minutes, the Bulls turned the ball over nine times as they watched the shot at a quality win disappear.
“We lost our rhythm and our flow offensively because we couldn’t string possessions together without turning the ball over,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “I think we had done a pretty good job for most of the game taking care of the ball, but clearly that fourth quarter, the number of turnovers; I think the nine or the ten we had just in the fourth quarter alone.
“When you’re in tight game with a really good team, it’s hard to overcome that.”
It ended up wrecking what was a strong game by the team up until that point, as they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 12-point lead at the half. Coby White’s three-pointer early in the third quarter extended the lead to 16, but the Suns slowly started chipping away at the lead.
Still the Bulls led by seven going into the fourth, but Deandre Ayton & Devin Booker (22 points each) took full advantage of the hosts mistakes to pull out a win for them. A major win for Donovan’s team along with a .500 record will have to wait for another day.