The Suns brave an Arctic cyclone to face a Chicago Bulls team that just traded their best offensive weapon (Luol Deng) and may be without their second leading scorer (Carlos Boozer). Can the Suns take care of business... and can the Bulls score 80?

When: Tuesday January 7, 2014, 6:00 PM local time (8:00 EST)

Where: WGN America United Center, Chicago, Illinois

Watch/Listen: TV: Fox Sports AZ Radio: 620 KTAR


Last Meeting:

This is the first meeting this season. The Chicago Bulls lead the all-time series 64-63.  A Suns win would knot things up.

The teams last met in Chicago on January 12, 2013. The Suns took a 66-56 lead in the third quarter and the Bulls never pulled back within single digits. The gap reached a fairly chasmic 19 points in the fourth quarter of a 97-81 rout. Luis Scola led the Suns with 22 points and seven rebounds, while former fan favorite Michael Beasley scored 20 points in 21 minutes. Goran Dragic scored seven points on 2-8 shooting. Joakim Noah (10 points/13 rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (15 points/10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles in the loss.


Team Bios:

Chicago Bulls: 14-18

Points per game: 91.3 (30)     Points allowed: 92.2 (2)

ORtg: 99.4 (29)     DRtg: 100.3 (2)

Full team statistics.

The Bulls come into this game winners of five of their last seven. During this stretch they have held six of those seven opponents to 91 points or less. Despite their parsimonious defense, the Bulls have struggled to a record four games below .500 due to a lack of offensive punch.  The team has muddled along to shoot a meager 42.2% from the field this season and now they will be without leading scorer Luol Deng, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. The team is also dealing with an injury to their second leading scorer Carlos Boozer.  Boozer is questionable for tonight's game with a sore right knee which might sideline him until the Bulls next game Friday night.

Injuries and offense aside, the Bulls still hold the sixth position in the standings of the mighty Eastern Conference. With their recent play they have even climbed to within 2.5 games of the third place Atlanta Hawks. Their last game was a 91-84 victory against that Hawks team as three starters recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds and Mike Dunleavy scored 20 off the bench.  Boozer did not play in the game.


Phoenix Suns: 20-12

Points per game: 103.7 (8)     Points allowed: 100.5 (15)

ORtg: 108.1 (9)     DRtg: 104.7 (11)

Full team statistics.

The Suns have won three of four, six of eight, and 11 of 14. A scalding offense has scored 100+ points in 11 of the last 13 games and the team has won by double digits in each of their past five victories. Things have been going rather swimmingly. But (there's always a but with me) not everything is butterflies and bumblebees.  The Suns two recent losses have come against a team last in the league in pace (the Memphis Grizzlies at 90.0) and a team that you may be surprised to hear is fourth in the NBA in DRtg (the Golden St. Warriors at 101.0).  The Bulls are like a marriage of these two teams as the have the third lowest pace (90.8) and second best DRtg. Chicago is the peanut butter and chocolate of slow and stingy.

The Suns are dealing with their own injured player, Eric Bledsoe, who may be unavailable for the team's five game road trip with a sprained right knee. Bledsoe will be reevaluated as early as Thursday or Friday. Leandro Barbosa may provide some unexpected relief as he was just inked to a 10 day contract... or the Suns may just want to have an oh sh&^ button handy (just in case). Phoenix won their last game, a scrimmage against the Milwaukee Bucks, 116-100 behind the pyrotechnics of Channing Frye and Gerald Green, who combined for 46 points and 10 three pointers. Ish Smith recorded eight assists (and a thunderous dunk which is now his screensaver) off the bench in Bledsoe's absence.


What To Watch For:

The Dragon - Goran has averaged 21.3 points and 8.2 assists in the eight games that Bledsoe has missed. On the season he is posting 18.8 points and 5.9 assists. Kirk Hinrich is averaging 7.8 points and 4.7 assists per game. The Suns should win this matchup, right? The Suns have to win this matchup, right?  Well, I guess the Suns did blow out the Bulls with Dragic scoring seven last season... Still, capitalizing on a lopsided mismatch couldn't hurt.

Pace - The Suns are 8th in the league in possessions per game (95.6) while the Bulls are 28th (90.8). The uglier this game gets the more likely the Bulls win. The Suns' goal should be to get this baby to Lawler's Law. They need to force the tempo, especially since they have bogged down in their halfcourt offense at times.  It will really be a battle of teams with antipodean styles.

Travel Plans - The Suns were initially supposed to leave for Chicago yesterday afternoon, but a polar vortex in the midwest (that just sounds colder than a hell made of ice) prevented the team from flying. They should be boarding a plane around the same time I'm posting this (8:30 AM local time). They will still get there in plenty of time for the game, but people are creatures of habit and this deviates from regular travel plans.


For What it's Worth:

The Chicago Bulls have only had a player score 30+ points in a game twice this season (Boozer [injured] and Deng [traded] once each). Goran Dragic has scored 30+ points four times.

The Bulls are 0-6 this season when their opponent scores 100 points.

The Final Word(s):

The Suns really need to get off on the right foot (or maybe the left foot if it's one of those Euro steps) on this roadie. They will potentially be road weary and fatigued on the back end of this five game, seven day adventure so picking up W's while they are fresh is imperative. Now that I've went to lengths to disparage the Bulls offense they'll probably drop a buck ten.

Also, screw all these damn injuries.  Rose vs. Bledsoe would have been awesome.

It’s been widely misrepresented that the Phoenix Suns have changed their strategy. When general manager Ryan McDonough told he would ideally be willing to trade the Suns’ draft...

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Greetings and a belated Happy 2014, Bright Siders! It's a new year with a new winning team, which means new fans, which means more traffic, which means it's time for a guidelines refresher... and a whole new section of Bright Side of the Sun for you to run wild in!

By way of quick introduction, I'm Mike. I've written on and off for Bright Side of the Sun since 2008, and I'm back on again. Way back in 2009, I helped Seth Pollack (former BSotS editor and current SBNation NBA League Manager) draw up these guidelines. And given the increased traffic that's coming from the Phoenix Suns' early season success (Woo hoo!), it seemed like a good time to remind everyone that we do in fact have some rules in place here at Bright Side of the Sun.

Below is a video created by former (?) Bright Sider Leiland Tanner (aka Eutychus) that breaks it down nicely if reading ain't your thing. Here is a link to the text version. You can always find the guidelines by clicking "Library" and then "Community Guidelines" at the top of the page. Bet you didn't even know that was there. And if you're too lazy to do any of that (but really, please do), here's the TL;DR:

  • Be Polite
  • Back Up Your Arguments (and cite your sources)
  • Rec the Good Stuff, Flag the Bad Stuff ("against the guidelines" bad, not "I disagree" bad)
  • Stay on Topic
  • No Racism, Homophobia, or other Personal Attacks
Pretty straight forward stuff, right? Frankly, I think the community does a pretty good job of keeping each other in check and that's the way it should be. However, if you see something that you feel requires moderator attention and none of us appear to be in the thread, flag it and then go to the bottom of the page and click on "Masthead" and email one of us.

"But, Mike," you say, "I have a bomb-ass 4-team trade that nets the Suns 5 All-Stars or I just love/hate X Player and have a 200 word rant about it or damn this burrito is good and I just HAVE to let the world know right now!" And to that I say...


Got a topic you want to discuss but there's no appropriate article or FanPost for it? The Madhouse is your jam. Borrowing a nickname from the Suns' past, every Monday morning, we will post a new Madhouse thread on the front page. All topics, Suns-related or otherwise, are welcome in the Madhouse. Trade ideas, other teams' seasons, NBA trivia questions, movie reviews, what you had for dinner, etc. It's all on the table in there. You will be able to find it just below the top stories and it will not move down or get bumped by new stories.

Some of you might be thinking "Isn't that what Solar Flares is for?" Well, it was. But Sreekar has made it such a wonderful round-up of discussable Suns news, that we felt we needed a new and completely content-free forum for everyone to play in. Hence, The Madhouse. Think of it as Bright Side of the Sun's break room or water cooler. It's our place to shoot the breeze about whatever we want whenever we want. Note: Community Guidelines still apply. Just not the one about Staying on Topic.

Thank you so much for your participation here at Bright Side of the Sun. The community is what makes this site so damn awesome and together we can make it awesomer.

Welcome to the Madhouse! Bright Side of the Sun is an amazing and diverse community and it deserves a place where the tyranny of topicality does not rule. And that's what The Madhouse is. It's Bright Side of the Sun's place to talk about whatever you want, whenever you want: trade ideas, new from around the league or what you had for dinner last night. It's all fair game here. Get crazy, y'all.

Goran Dragic has had to shoulder the load before without Eric Bledsoe, but he needs his teammates to start stepping up for this to work again...

Another 2-1 week for the Phoenix Suns (20-12) a float in the Western Conference Standings despite playing two games without emerging star Eric Bledsoe. This is not the first time the team has been without Bledsoe in the line-up due to injury and have tread water in those games going 4-4 overall.

Game Recaps

@ Los Angeles Clippers - W (107-88) Full Recap

vs. Memphis Grizzlies - L (91-99) Full Recap

vs. Milwaukee Bucks - W (116-100) Full Recap

This week Head Coach Jeff Hornacek had to create a last minute gameplan against the scrappy Grizzlies which resulted in a tough loss at home, but with a few days to prepare they were able to knock off the underachieving Bucks despite being shorthanded.

The highlight of the season so far came with a knockout blow type victory over the "rival" Clippers who lead the Pacific Division.

Getting a resume win like that with the style points that go along with it is important for a young team trying to wave waves. The wins against the Blazers earlier in the season where great, but this was a statement win. Chris Paul described the loss to the Suns as the "worst loss" he has had in a Clippers uniform. That says a lot because the Suns roughed them up. They played tough and took the flashy and fun Clippers out of their element. Sounds a bit familiar, right Suns fans?

Key Stat

Point Distribution

With Eric Bledsoe out the team is missing 18.0 points and 5.8 assists per game. Not going to deep into advanced stats, shooting numbers, and overall impact on the game. He impacts the game in ways that stats cannot describe for this team. Here is a look at the scoring distribution for the eight games that Bledsoe has not played in this season:

Gerald Green: 16.8 points 2.1 assists per game (+4.6 points w/o Bledsoe)

Channing Frye: 16.0 points 1.2 assists per game (+6.2 points w/o Bledsoe)

Marcus Morris: 11.6 points 1.0 assists per game (+1.7 points w/o Bledsoe)

Markieff Morris: 10.3 points 1.5 assists per game (-2.5 points w/o Bledsoe)

P.J. Tucker: 9.0 points 2.0 assists per game (-0.2 points w/o Bledsoe)

Miles Plumlee: 8.3 points 0.25 assists per game (-2.1 points w/o Bledsoe)

In total, without Bledsoe the role players have accounted for +12.5 points and are nearly dead even, +0.205, in assists per game. The team is leaving 5.5 points and 5.6 assists per game on the bench in a suit making life for Goran Dragic that much tougher. Having a consistent secondary scorer or multiple role players step up and score 4-5 points more per game helps relieve the pressure...

Quote of the Week

We need everyone to play well for us to win. We do not have that guy that we can go to and say, "Hey, carry us tonight," -- Coach Jeff Hornacek on getting secondary scoring without Bledsoe in the line-up

2014 NBA Draft Update

Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns have three first round picks with the current projections, none of which are in the lottery. A slight change of pace from pre-season projections. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:

Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17) -- No. 13 Overall (Pick stays in Minnesota based on Protections) James Young, Freshman Wing Kentucky -- Very good lefty shooter that has drawn comparisons to a young Michael Redd with athleticism.

Washington Wizards (14-17) -- No. 18 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) Adreian Payne, Senior F/C Michigan State -- Dynamic stretch-four that has show the ability to score inside, score outside, and defend the interior as well.

Phoenix Suns (20-12) -- No. 22 Overall (Pick stays in Phoenix based on Protections) Sam Dekker, Sophomore Forward Wisconsin -- Skilled prospect that can play the three in a traditional line-up and small-ball four as well with his shooting and ball-handling/play-making ability.

Indiana Pacers (27-6) -- No. 30 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) Troy Williams, Freshman Forward Indiana -- Raw young athlete that is starting to gain more responsibility as a ball-handler, but overall is an elite athlete, quality defender, and rebounds his position well.

Keep following along here to get updates and information on the 2014 NBA Draft Class and more.

News & Notes

  • Eric Bledsoe will miss up to a week (or longer) with a sprained right knee...
  • Leandro Barbosa was signed to a 10-day contract...
  • Goran Dragic notched his career-high with 33 points against the Memphis Grizzlies...

Suns History Lesson

This week in Suns History: January 9th, 1972: In a loss to the Baltimore Bullets at College Park the NBA's 2,000,000 point was scored. By who? Who knows? Connie Hawkins and Dick Van Arsdale led the way with 22 points each in the loss.

Previewing the Week Ahead:

Tuesday, January 7th @ Chicago Bulls (14-18)

Wednesday, January 8th @ Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17)

Friday, January 10th @ Memphis Grizzlies (15-18)

Saturday, January 11th @ Detroit Pistons (14-20)

It feels like every week is a test for the team that has crashed the party, but proven that they belong there with everyone else who came with bells on. Their invitation was three years in the making and they decided to show up early, like a freshman at the senior dance.

Here is another opportunity for the Suns as they hit the road for five games in seven nights with four of them this week. The Bulls and Pistons are playoff teams in the Eastern Conference, but would be slotted No. 11 and No. 9 respectively if they were in the Western Conference. While the Bulls are struggling, they are feisty, like the Grizzlies which will be another stop on this trip. Without Bledsoe with for all these games it is not expected that the team will sweep through a road trip like these even with teams that are struggling. Getting back home with a 2-2 week would be acceptable while a 3-1 week would be admirable.

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