Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler return but Bulls come out flat against Suns

Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler return but Bulls come out flat against Suns

PHOENIX — Dwyane Wade had a wry smile as he mishandled a dribble on the baseline, an unforced turnover that often leads to nothing.

But the Phoenix Suns were off and running in the blink of the eye, with P.J. Tucker getting it ahead to Eric Bledsoe who Euro-stepped into the lane for a layup and foul on Jerian Grant.

No time to complain, half-step or even smile at yourself in disbelief as the Suns have one advantage, especially at home.

Run you out of the building.

Wade and Jimmy Butler's return was necessary but it wasn't fruitful as the Bulls dropped one to the Western Conference basement-dwelling Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 115-97 Friday night.

"Awful, awful," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "They out-competed us in every category tonight: rebounding, loose balls, transition. Tells you all you need to know."

Butler returned from a three-game absence due to a right heel contusion and scored 20 in 30 minutes. Wade getting back from that illness that made its way through the league and the team last month served him well as he played with fresh legs and scored 18.

But both came away with injuries as Wade had his wrist wrapped up after a hard second half spill and Butler took a shot to the knee from Bledsoe in the fourth quarter.

He tried to stay in but a few minutes later the game was out of hand as the Bulls couldn't cut into a double-digit deficit in the fourth, perhaps their worst end to end effort in quite awhile.

"I'm just hoping this pain goes away. Sometimes the game goes, you gotta use that foot," Butler said. "Nothing major (knee). It's all good. I'll be fine."

But when asked would he play Sunday, Butler seemed to put his availability into question, saying, "That's a good question. That's a very good question."

Having Butler back aided in terms of shot creation, as he had little trouble getting his own despite clearly looking less than his usual self. He started the second half just one of six and finished going six of 16 from the field, with the Bulls unable to get any offensive traction with just 43 percent from the field and hitting five of 19 triples.

Even though the offense was a big enough problem for Hoiberg to harp on, the defense was inexcusable as they didn't get back — the first tenet of defense.

[PREVIEW: A day in the life of the Windy City Bulls]

"That's all we talked about and we said don't be surprised," Hoiberg said.

Apparently, they looked shocked the Suns came out and ran.

"It didn't get better," Butler said. "We didn't get back. They got a lot of easy ones and it's tough when you gotta take the ball out of the net every time. They get their confidence, they get rolling."

Notably, it was the Suns' backcourt that gave the Bulls the flu, as the Bulls had to know containing Bledsoe and Devin Booker was the biggest key to picking up their third win in five games on the West Coast swing.

Bledsoe lived in the paint all night on his way to 23 and the sharpshooting Booker scored 27 easy points. The Suns shot nearly 50 percent and turned it over just eight times.

Facing the best team at getting out for quick scores gave them a nice primer on the Suns' attack — although the Suns are nowhere near as sophisticated or good as the Warriors.

But they ran the Bulls up and down in the second quarter to take a 13-point lead. They had trouble tracking the dangerous Booker and too many times the Bulls blew defensive assignments inside to allow easy baskets.

"If you don't know what you do well how do you win consistently? In a game like today when you look at it statistically, everything we gave up is how we lose games," Wade said. "We turned the ball over a lot, gave them a lot of transition points and didn't have a lot of ball movement. Those things and losing the rebounding war, those are the things that give you a chance to win most nights."

But it wasn't just Bledsoe breaking the Bulls down but also Brandon Knight off the bench and bruiser Alan Williams bumping and knocking bodies around for a double-double off the bench after former Bull Tyson Chandler went out in the second quarter with an injury.

This was supposed to be a game the Bulls could pick up as the topsy-turvy East isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Instead, they laid an egg — just the momentum they want to carry into Minneapolis Sunday afternoon.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues


Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues

0:00- Will Perdue drops by to talk hoops. What will the Bulls do this summer to address their point guard need?

7:00- The Bulls need a point guard. Derrick Rose is a free agent. Should they bring him back home?

11:30- Carman says the Bulls should consider trading for Lonzo Ball. Kap yells at him.

16:30- Will talks about this year's playoffs and if anybody will be the Warriors?

20:00- The Bears Top 100 list continues to dominate discussion. Chris makes the case for Jay Cutler to be higher. He gets yelled at.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:


Bulls Nation is recruiting free agent Patrick Beverley…..and it might be working


Bulls Nation is recruiting free agent Patrick Beverley…..and it might be working

The Bulls may have just received a nice little boost to their chances of landing point guard Patrick Beverley in free agency. The contingent of Bulls fans that want the front office to put the full-court press on in their efforts to land the Chicago-native received some positive feedback on Friday, when Beverley retweeted a video of a Bulls fan letting him know how much support he has to come play for his hometown team.

Beverley obviously was pleased with the support and if he is truly interested in coming to Chicago, he will have quite a bit to mull over as free agency kicks off at it’s new, earlier date of  5 p.m. CT on June 29.

The Doc Rivers-led Clippers were an incredibly overachieving team, taking the the Golden State Warriors (with Kevin Durant) six games. But that feisty roster that snuck up on everyone after they traded away leading-scorer Tobias Harris will look much different next season, as the Clippers have lofty goals. With Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler,Kemba Walker, and Kyrie Irving all free agents, it is possible Los Angeles could find themselves needing to let Beverley go if they go all-in on building an outright superteam.

But in the more likely scenario where the Clippers re-sign Beverley, it is still possible he would be walking into a role where he ends up being the backup. Chicago would represent an opportunity for Beverley to be the clear-cut day one starter. On top of that, his game meshes seamlessly with the skills of Bulls core piece Zach LaVine. Beverley’s best year as a 3-point shooter—40 percent on 310 3PT attempts—came playing next to a high-usage scorer in James Harden back in 2016, providing somewhat of blueprint for what a LaVine-Beverley backcourt pairing could look like.

With what we know about Jim Boylen and the members of his current coaching staff, Beverley would no doubt be a perfect fit for what the Bulls are trying to accomplish moving forward, and Bulls Nation seems very inclined to agree.   

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