Derrick Rose continues to haunt the Phoenix Suns, as the Bulls have now topped the Suns in three straight games dating back to last season. He must loving dunking on the Suns, because his two best in-game dunks have come against the Suns [at least off the top of my head] as he had a monster jam over Dragic tonight and the huge dunk on Barbosa last season. The vicious dunk in this game was a momentum swinger which closed off the Suns last challenge to get back into the game.
This game featured some great offense from the Bulls which was a rarity, but the Bulls played a complete game holding the high powered Suns to a sub 40% FG% for the night. Steve Nash in particular struggled playing far worse than normal.
Derrick Rose was absolutely dominant early in the game. There may have been a point where he was better, but I remember checking the box score and seeing he was 9 of 11 from the field at one point early in the game. He came threw for the Bulls finding John Salmons for an open kick out three followed by his own buzzer beating three at the end of the third. The Bulls had fallen down by 1, but the 6 point swing put them ahead for good.
Now for some bad news, Noah reported that he's also dealing with plantar fasciitis, and that it's flaired up badly after the Clippers game. Plantar fasciitis can be anywhere from annoying to crippling, and it can haunt some guys for a career, so we'll have to hope for the best there.
On the plus side, Noah really had a tremendous game offensively hitting 9 of 10 free throws ad chipping in 19 points for the Bulls particularly in the fourth quarter where he scored eight and went 6-6 from the charity stripe. This was one night where Noah did an outstanding job executing the pick and roll and making the Suns pay for trapping Rose.
On the majority of possessions when the Suns heavily trapped Rose, Noah was able to dive in and draw fouls, make a shot, and had a couple nice pass outs for open jumpers [though the Bulls only connected on one]. Noah even knocked down a couple open jumpers.
I don't know if it was the Suns scheme, but they seeemd to give Noah way more space after the trap than most teams do allowing him to get in deeper position.
Luol Deng scored 23, and he hit a clutch three off a Rose assist with the game tied at 77 in the third, but like most Luol Deng games, he did most of his damage in the first half, and scored only 2 in the fourth quarter. I never thought I'd compare Luol Deng to Eddy Curry, but he really has a Curryesque ability to score early and be nowhere to be found late in the game.
Still, I don't want to rag on him too much, because he did hit big shots while the game was close in the third, and that was the real tipping point of the game.
John Salmons came up with a bunch of clutch plays tonight. As mentioned previously, he knocked down a three at the only point in the second half where the Suns had a lead, and scored five straight points in the fourth when the Suns got within three, the closest they'd make the game again. He only chipped in 14 points, but most of them were in clutch situations.
Kirk Hinrich played some outstanding defense on Nash all night long, and while his box score only looks average, his effort was a huge factor in giving the Bulls the victory.
Taj Gibson's most notable moment came on a scare where he skied for a rebound and fell flat on his back. It appears that he just got the wind knocked out of him as he came back into the game, and I haven't read anything about his condition afterwards.
Tyrus Thomas would have had a great game if he didn't jack jumpers all night long, but he was very active when not shooting them. Why he's hell bent on shooting jumpers I will never know. It was great to see him make some big blocks, including a couple plays that went against him that shouldn't have, but you just wish you could flip the switch on for him to stop floating around the perimeter on offense.
All in all, a big win for the Bulls, the worst case scenario on the road trip now is come out of it seven games under .500. As bad as it sounds, they could easily rebound from that and still make the playoffs in the east.