Durant sinks Bulls at buzzer
Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports

Durant sinks Bulls at buzzer

by - Senior Writer -

PHOENIX - When you look back at the Chicago Bulls (21-24) game against the Phoenix Suns (25-18), you may look at this game as the one that sealed the fate for the Bulls' trade deadline plans. It's never easy playing out West, and the Bulls found that out firsthand as Monday was a tale of two halves for Chicago.

Despite a near triple-double for Coby White, the Bulls saw what was a massive first-half lead dwindle during the second half to the point where the Suns tied it up late and had the ball in their hands with less than 10 seconds to go. That is when Kevin Durant took it upon himself to take over as he connected for a game-winning mid-range jumper over Alex Caruso with 1.6 seconds to go as the Suns come from behind for the 115-113 win. Durant finished the game with 43 points after that bucket and now has back-to-back 40-point games.

You couldn't have asked for a better start from the Bulls, as they played by far their first half of the season. Led by White and his 26-point, 10 rebounds, and nine-assist performance, Chicago jumped in front by 15 in the first quarter, holding a 37-22 lead after one-quarter of play. They continued to add to that lead in the second quarter, and after the first half was over, it was the Bulls holding a 66-49 lead, leaving the Suns searching for answers.

No one expected the Bulls to play that well in the second half, but at the same time, no one expected the Bulls to fold the way they did, either. After a fairly slow start to the game, Durant came on in the second half to pull the Suns within seven points after three as he was up to 26 points. Then came the fourth quarter, where Durant was a man on a mission. He scored 17 points in the final 12 minutes, including his game-winning jumper, as the Suns rallied from 17 down at the half to steal the 115-113 win.

With Zach Lavine continuing to sit with a sprained ankle, the talk around the league seems that the Bulls will have no choice but to hold onto him at the deadline. When you look at how this team has played with him instead of without him, it's night and day, and Chicago will have to figure out what to do with him in the coming weeks. Without Lavine demanding the ball and playing the isolation game, the Bulls offense has much more balance and seems to flow more consistently.

Any time all five of your starters can score double figures and six players in total, you can see the ball movement and how much more versatile this offense has been. Sure, White was the engine that made the Bulls go yet again, which has been a theme since December, but he wasn't alone as Demar DeRozan backed him with 21 points. Throw in the massive 19-point, 17-rebound performance from Nikola Vucevic, and the Bulls have a new big three that seems to be playing better than ever.

Speaking of someone playing well, Alex Caruso is not only enjoying his best stretch of basketball since joining the Bulls but arguably the best stretch of his career as he added 15 points, all coming from deep. He was responsible for five of the Bulls 14 triples which has been a more significant part of their game this season. Filling in for Lavine again was Patrick Williams, who added 13 points, with Ayo Dosunmu also grabbing 13 off the bench, as that was the brunt of the Bulls scoring in the loss.

When you talk about a Big-Three, you immediately look at the Suns starting five where they have arguably the best scoring big-three in the game. Durant gets most of the attention, but when you have Devin Booker and Bradley Beal with him, it's hard to imagine this team losing as many games as they have so early. Neither Beal nor Booker had the best of games, but with 18 points from Beal and 16 from Booker, they did what they needed to do to give Durant some balance.

Apart from that, the Suns had only one other player in double figures, coming from Drew Eubanks, who added 10 points, off the bench. This was one of those games where the Bulls chose to let one player beat them, and unfortunately for them, that player did beat them as Durant had his way with the Bulls. The Bulls will stay out West, but will have an extra day off before facing off with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

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