Costly turnover costs Bulls in overtime loss to Suns
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Costly turnover costs Bulls in overtime loss to Suns

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - Basketball is a game of peaks and valleys, and when it comes to the Chicago Bulls (3-6), they are in a valley right now. Whether it be their inconsistent shooting leading to offensive struggles or the inability to put teams away late, the first part of the NBA season hasn't gotten off to the start they or anyone was hoping for.

However, all it takes is one game that can change the outlook of their season, and after dropping 130 points against the Utah Jazz on Monday, many were wondering if that was the game that would kick things into gear for this team. Not to mention, the Bulls are in a stretch of playing eight of nine games at the United Center with several winnable games. This is the perfect opportunity for the Bulls to bank some wins and get back on track.

For that to happen, the Bulls needed to solve, by far, their toughest test in terms of offensive firepower this season as the Phoenix Suns (4-4) came to town. With Bradley Beal making his first appearance of the season, the Suns would be close to full strength for the first time, which is a scary thought when you think about it.

The Bulls got punched in the mouth early and often as the Suns came out about as hot as possible to grab an early lead. To the Bulls credit, they not only took the punches from the Suns but also found ways to battle back as they tied things up at the half and overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to help force Overtime. In the extra period, the outside shooting got things started quickly, as both Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso knocked down a pair of triples to give the Bulls a four-point advantage.

With this team struggling to shoot the ball from the outside through seven games, you have to like what you have seen from them the past two games as they knocked down 14 triples in this one and shot just under 43% from distance. Unfortunately, it was the three-point shot that would be their demise once again as the Suns knocked down 19 triples of their own while a late-game steal from Jusef Nurkic provided the winning bucket as the Suns came into the United Center and escaped 116-115 winners in Overtime.

You have to feel for Vucevic in this one, as he was the one who gave up that game-winning bucket late in the overtime period. Vucevic not only started the overtime period with a clutch triple, but he put up his best offensive game of the season, leading the team with 26 points to jumpstart the offense. Anytime you get this kind of performance, your focus goes right to the other big three members, as they tend to have a rough game when Vucevic does well.

That wasn't the case in this one, as Zach Lavine and Demar DeRozan backed Vucevic with strong performances of their own as they combined for 44 additional points, 22 each. After moving on from Patrick Williams in the starting lineup and going with Torrey Craig, the hope was for him to provide a bit more offensive consistency. However, with a zero point showing in this one, he is playing just as bad as Williams from an offensive side.

Pair that with the 11 points from White and the Bulls starting lineup left a lot of points on the board which is an area they need to address. Thank God for the Alex Caruso, as the Carushow was on full display in this one. He gave the Bulls more than 30 minutes off the bench and went 7-9 shooting, including 4-5 from deep to finish with 19 points. That included an overtime triple of his own to put the Bulls up four, which looked to be the winning bucket until late.

Anytime you put up 115 points, you give your team a chance to win, but when you look at the offensive firepower the Suns have, it does make it more difficult. Even with Devin Booker out of the lineup, the Suns still have two of the best scorers in the league running the show, including future hall-of-famer Kevin Durant. Say what you want about Durant and the team hopping he has done the past few seasons.

The bottom line is that he is one of the best pure scorers this game has ever seen, and with 25 points, you continue to see why. However, Durant wasn't the one leading the way, as that honor went to Grayson Allen, who joined Vucevic with a game-high 26 points. For whatever reason, Allen steps up his game against this Bulls team, and Wednesday was another example of that with his massive performance.

New to the Suns this season is Jusef Nurkic, who was acquired as part of the Deandre Ayton trade. He is not as skilled offensively as Ayton, but you would've never guessed it in this one, as he added 20 points while also hauling in 16 rebounds. That performance alone made up for the loss of Booker and the 13 points from Beal as he connected for the game-winning bucket in the win.

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