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What a heartbreaker. The Suns were able to keep it close in first half, came out and played awful basketball in the third quarter, but still managed to make a miraculous comeback in the fourth quarter only to lose in overtime. Sebastian Telfair came in and knocked down some huge three-pointers and finished the night with 17 points and 4 assists. P. J. Tucker came off the bench and hauled in crucial 7 offensive rebounds. These impressive performances from the bench were in vain, however, as Carlos Boozer with 28 points and Joakim Noah with 21 points led the Bulls in overtime to get the win.

Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley were almost nonexistent tonight. When Scola fouled out in overtime, he was the only starter to finish with a positive +/- in the game by the way, Beasley came in and Suns fans were quick to call for him to go back to the bench. Dudley finished the night with only 5 points, Goran Dragic looked good at the beginning but cooled off in the second half, Gortat played adequately, but Scola really was the starter that had a game necessary to beat Chicago.

The Bulls shot well tonight, shooting 50% from the field. The Suns managed only to shoot 40% in field goal attempts. That is the formula for a loss, plain and simple. It also didn't help that Beasley, Dudley, and Brown shot a combined 10 for 35 from the floor.

Alright, enough venting. Let's talk about some positive. Here are some things that I was impressed with tonight:

P. J. Tucker: Consider me a believer. In honor of college basketball beginning and Dick Vitale, Tucker is a PTPer baby! He seems to always be in the right place at the right time. Players like Tucker, the ones who go for those 50/50 balls, are the ones that make basketball fun to watch. Tip of the hat to you Mr. Tucker.

Heart of the Second Unit: The third quarter was tough to watch. The Bulls only outscored Phoenix by 8, but that doesn't show how poorly the Suns really played in that quarter. They looked lost when Dragic and some of the other starters were taking breathers. Then the comeback happened...Bassy hit some big threes, Tucker was hustling all over the court to get offensive rebounds, and the second unit started to show tremendous heart. They never gave up and although they ultimately gassed in overtime, they impressed me in that fourth quarter.

The schedule for the near future does not get any easier as the Suns play the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and the Miami Heat on Saturday. Hopefully the starters are able to match the heart of the bench for these games.


Final - 11.14.2012 1 2 3 4 OT 1 Total
Chicago Bulls 29 28 26 17 12 112
Phoenix Suns 27 24 18 31 6 106

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Despite a furious comeback led by Sebastian Telfair and the Suns bench, the Bulls were able to cruise in overtime and secure the 112-106 victory.

When: 7:00 p.m. MST / 9:00 p.m. EST

Where: US Airways Center Phoenix, AZ

Watch: FSNAZ (Locally), NBA League Pass

Alright Suns fans, take your mind of Mike D'Antoni. Time to validate last game's 110-100 victory against the Nuggets with another win at home against the Chicago Bulls.

The 4-4 Suns and the 4-3 Bulls find themselves in similar dilemmas. Chicago and the Suns both have rosters full with capable, important pieces that a championship team would need...but they are both lacking the star power to carry them beyond anything else besides a fringe playoff spot.

Granted, Chicago and Phoenix are in similar situations, but they find themselves in those situations with vastly different circumstances.

The Suns lost their guy to another team, that horse has been beaten enough. The Bulls, however, are without the most explosive point guard the league has seen in my generation and their ticket to a potential birth into the Eastern Conference Finals was shot when Derrick Rose suffered his knee injury against the 76ers in the the first game of the playoffs last season.

Both clubs are in limbo (Inception reference, couldn't help myself) and are looking to find their identity. Chicago, it appears, has turned to using Loul Deng as their first option and they've been working him into the ground. Deng has averaged 41.8 minutes per game in the Bulls' last five games because they really don't have any other player they can depend upon besides the former Duke Blue Devil.

The Suns will look to counteract with their platoon scoring and their 10-man rotation. Tonight's game should provide for some entertaining basketball. Let's look at three key match-ups in the game:

Key Match-Ups:

Michael Beasley vs. Luol Deng: This is the match-up the night ladies and gentlemen. Beasley has to show up tonight against Deng, plain and simple. If Beasley can do that and put up respectable numbers against Deng, it would help Phoenix out tremendously. Realistically, the Bulls have the edge in this match-up. Right now, Deng is averaging close to 19 points per game and has always been known as a tough defender. Beasley, on the other hand, has looked well...like Michael Beasley, averaging only 13.3 points per game and shooting an lackluster 36.2% from the floor. Nothing has suggested to me that Chicago does not have the advantage in this match-up.

The Bigs, Marcin Gortat & Luis Scola vs. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer: Hands down, advantage goes to the Suns in the one folks. Gortat and Scola have looked as advertised so far this season (knock on wood everybody) and are really the foundation of the roster. The Polish Hammer Gazelle has been the double-double machine the Suns need him to be and Scola is proving his worth with close to 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. The Bigs for Phoenix should outperform the respectable Noah and the player formally known as Carlos Boozer tonight.

Goran Dragic vs. Kirk Hinrich or Nate Robinson: The Bulls can put up Hinrich or Robinson, the Suns still would have the advantage in the floor general match-up. Dragic has been the MVP for Phoenix, shooting close to 47% from the field and tacking on 7.5 assists per game as well. If Hinrich does play, the former Jayhawk has barely looked D-League worthy in the six games he has played this season and Robinson would have his hands full with Dragic. Point guard advantage leans strongly toward Phoenix in this game.

The Bottom Line: The Suns should win. On paper, the Bulls just don't have the depth that the Suns have and don't possess the scoring capabilities like Phoenix does. If Chicago somehow manages to turn this game into a defense struggle, however, don't count out Tom Thibodeau's trying to steal away this win from the Suns and piece together a low-scoring victory. My official prediction: The Suns win and move to 5-4 on the season entering into their game against the Los Angeles Lakers and their head coach, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.


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When: 7:00 p.m. MST / 9:00 p.m. EST

Where: US Airways Center Phoenix, AZ

Watch: FSNAZ (Locally), NBA League Pass

Alright Suns fans, take your mind off Mike D'Antoni. Time to validate last game's 110-100 victory against the Nuggets with another win at home against the Chicago Bulls.

The 4-4 Suns and the 4-3 Bulls find themselves in similar dilemmas. Chicago and the Suns both have rosters full of capable, important pieces that a championship team would need...but they are both lacking the star power to carry them beyond anything else besides a fringe playoff spot.

Granted, Chicago and Phoenix are in similar situations, but they find themselves in those situations with vastly different circumstances.

The Suns lost their guy to another team, that horse has been beaten enough. The Bulls, however, are without the most explosive point guard the league has seen in my generation and their ticket to a potential birth into the Eastern Conference Finals was shot when Derrick Rose suffered his knee injury against the 76ers in the the first game of the playoffs last season.

Both clubs are in limbo (Inception reference, couldn't help myself) and are looking to find their identity. Chicago, it appears, has turned to using Loul Deng as their first option and they've been working him into the ground. Deng has averaged 41.8 minutes per game in the Bulls' last five games because they really don't have any other player they can depend upon besides the former Duke Blue Devil.

The Suns will look to counteract with their platoon scoring and their 10-man rotation. Tonight's game should provide for some entertaining basketball. Let's look at three key match-ups in the game:

Key Match-Ups:

Michael Beasley vs. Luol Deng: This is the match-up of the night ladies and gentlemen. Beasley has to show up tonight against Deng, plain and simple. If Beasley can do that and put up respectable numbers against Deng, it would help Phoenix out tremendously. Realistically, the Bulls have the edge in this match-up. Right now, Deng is averaging close to 19 points per game and has always been known as a tough defender. Beasley, on the other hand, has looked well...like Michael Beasley, averaging only 13.3 points per game and shooting a lackluster 36.2% from the floor. Nothing has suggested to me that Chicago does not have the advantage in this match-up.

The Bigs, Marcin Gortat & Luis Scola vs. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer: Hands down, advantage goes to the Suns in this one folks. Gortat and Scola have looked as advertised so far this season (knock on wood everybody) and are really the foundation of the roster. The Polish Hammer Gazelle has been the double-double machine the Suns need him to be and Scola is proving his worth with close to 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. The Bigs for Phoenix should outperform the respectable Noah and the player formerly known as Carlos Boozer tonight.

Goran Dragic vs. Kirk Hinrich or Nate Robinson: The Bulls can put up Hinrich or Robinson, the Suns still would have the advantage in the floor general match-up. Dragic has been the MVP for Phoenix, shooting close to 47% from the field and tacking on 7.5 assists per game as well. If Hinrich does play, the former Jayhawk has barely looked D-League worthy in the six games he has played this season and Robinson would have his hands full with Dragic. Point guard advantage leans strongly toward Phoenix in this game.

The Bottom Line: The Suns should win. On paper, the Bulls just don't have the depth that the Suns have and don't possess the scoring capabilities like Phoenix does. If Chicago somehow manages to turn this game into a defensive struggle, however, don't count out Tom Thibodeau's trying to steal away this win from the Suns and piece together a low-scoring victory. My official prediction: The Suns win and move to 5-4 on the season entering into their game against the Los Angeles Lakers and their head coach, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.


Chicago Bulls 112, Phoenix Suns 106 OT PHOENIX — After Tuesday’s practice, shooting guard Jared Dudley made it abundantly clear that the Suns’ 4-4 start to the 2012-13 season is a...

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After eight games, the Phoenix Suns record is perfectly average with a 4-4 record. Their offensive efficiency is just above average (13th overall) while their defensive efficiency is near the bottom of the league (27th overall). As a team, the Suns are pulling down just under half of the available rebounds, which places them in the bottom half of the league (19th). Sound familiar?

Despite those offensive and defensive numbers, rebounding is the key to success for this team. So far on the young season, the Suns are 3-0 when they outrebound their opponent. And 1-4 when they don't.

Where it gets interesting is when you pull back the layers of data on how those rebounds are coming about. There are big differences between this current team (so far) and the Suns of old.

Prior Suns teams would regularly outshoot the opponent, while the current team is getting outshot more often than not. That meant the Suns had, on average, more defensive rebounding chances than their opponent each night, giving them a distinct advantage on the boards in simple terms of opportunity.

This season's Suns are not shooting the ball nearly as well, which hands the rebounding advantage to the other team. The Suns shooting percentage so far this season is a paltry 42.8% while their opponents are making a robust 47% of their shots. This equates to the Suns missing six (6) more field goals per game, which is six (6) more defensive rebounding opportunities for the opponent.

All things being equal in rebound rates, the team that misses more shots should also lose the rebounding battle.

The Suns should be losing the rebound battle by six boards a game thanks to their poor shooting, yet that's just not the case so far. In fact, the Suns are crashing the offensive boards (7th in the NBA) and grabbing most of those extra misses themselves.

Thanks to rebounding their own misses more than their opponent is doing, the Suns have reduced that disadvantage to only 1 fewer total rebound per game so far and have outrebounded their opponent in each of their wins (despite only outshooting them twice).

Captain Obvious says this team will win more games if they make more shots.

Well that's one solution. The Suns are currently in the bottom third of the league in effective shooting percentage (which weighs 3-pointers heavier than 2-pointers) after regularly topping the standings in that area in years past. They are shooting 42.7% overall, and only 32.8% from 3-point land. Only Goran Dragic and Shannon Brown are making at or above their career average on 3s.

Another solution is to force their opponents to miss more shots. The opponents so far are making 47% of all of their shots, and a crazy 43.8% of their 3-pointers. Can this Suns team possibly be defending the 3-point line any worse than years past? Not likely. Last year's opponents made only 35.2% of their 3-point attempts. Methinks this is a fluke that will be corrected with patience and a minor defensive tweak here and there.

The Suns shooters will improve to their mean, and the Suns opponents will regress to theirs. All of this will just happen in time.

And when those shooting numbers level out, as long as the Suns keep crashing the boards they may just find themselves winning the rebounding battle on a regular basis. And that would equate to more wins.

The Suns are undefeated this season when winning the total rebounding battle.

Grabbing more defensive rebounds on their opponents' misses is a top priority. Suns C Marcin Gortat, the Suns best rebounder, thinks it's all about their mindset.

"Everybody wants to try to get the rebound," he said after practice yesterday. "But first we have to box out. Unfortunately we are not always doing it. Secondly we have to get tougher, that is it. If you really want to go get a rebound and you don't want to box out we have to anticipate that that guy is going to fly at you with full speed. If you don't want to box out you have to go up, hard, and strong to secure the ball and we are just not doing it."

Just in case we weren't sure what he meant, he elaborated as only Marcin Gortat can.

"Those "unathletic guys" should focus more on boxing out I think," he continued. "And those athlete guys supposed to take those balls from the rim, but they have to do it hard.

While their offensive rebounding has been great, the defensive rebounding has not been quite as good.

The Suns, so far, are 20th in the league in defensive rebound rate (the percentage of opponent misses rebounded by the Suns). Better than prior Suns editions (24th, 28th and 29th in the last three years, respectively), but not good enough to overcome a struggling offense.

Clearly, the key to winning games is to make more shots than the opponent.

Past Suns teams would start by outshooting their opponent and hope the shooting would negate any disadvantage on the boards.

This current team cannot afford to wait for anything - they have to win the rebound battle every night. And if they do, that could go a long way in a playoff run.

"We have to get better," Gortat said. "And we have made a lot of mistakes during the games."


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