It was a sunny post All-Star return for the Bulls against Phoenix. The Bulls came back from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit with 4:31 left to defeat the Phoenix Suns in overtime 128-121.
The Bulls got a huge fourth quarter and big shots from Jimmy Butler and then an overtime special from Dwyane Wade for the victory to get back to .500 at 29-29. The Bulls are in Cleveland Saturday. The Suns are 18-40. The Suns had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Devin Booker missed the third of three free throws after two clutch Butler jumpers at the end of regulation.
Wade led the Bulls with 23 points. Butler had 22 and Nikola Mirotic 20. Denzel Valentine added 15 off the bench with five of eight three pointers. Booker had 27 for the Suns. The Bulls tied a franchise record with 20 overtime points.
The Bulls had their new players with the team, but not playing. Cameron Payne was recovering from flu and while Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow were available, neither played since they hadn’t had a chance to work with the team yet. The Bulls went with Michael Carter-Williams to start over Jerian Grant for a defensive guard after being outrun by the Suns in Phoenix earlier this month. Wade was back from illness before the break and Portis was in the starting lineup with Taj Gibson traded. Valentine was first off the bench. It was an uncertain start for the Bulls, who usually go inside to Gibson and Lopez early. The Bulls missed their first six attempts and fell behind 15-8 before Lopez rallied with half hooks inside and eight first quarter points. His run enabled the Bulls to tie the game at 19, and then Valentine added a pair of threes as the Bulls trailed 25-24 after one quarter. The Suns peeked out ahead again in the second quarter with a follow by high jumping Derrick Jones Jr. for a 31-26 Phoenix lead. Jones would order up the highlight of the quarter later with a towering dunk on the fast break for a 37-32 Suns lead. The Bulls could not get much coordination with their latest lineups and Butler struggling against double teams. Grant came in midway through the second quarter to add a three and a postup move for a foul and free throws for a 44-42 Bulls lead. The Suns responded with an 11-3 run for a 53-47 lead before a late Grant three-point play brought the Bulls within 54-52 at halftime as the Suns shot 55.8 percent on the half. No one on either team scored in double figures in the first half. The Suns dominated the boards 26-18 with an 18-3 lead in fast breaks in trying to push the pace against the Bulls like they did in Phoenix.
The Suns continued to steal the momentum with an 8-1 start to the second half for a 62-53 lead. Carter-Williams was replaced early by Grant as the Bulls struggled to find offense with defensive pressure on Butler. The Suns pulled out to a 70-59 lead midway through the third quarter before a Valentine three and three Mirotic free throws got the Bulls within 76-69 with four minutes left in the third. Valentine then broke some Phoenix hearts with back to back threes and the Bulls went into the fourth quarter leading 80-79. Valentine’s 15 points led the Bulls through three quarters. The Suns edged back ahead early in the fourth quarter as Wade drew a technical foul after feeling he was hit on a missed drive.
The Suns moved out to a 94-89 lead with 6:22 left with reserve big man Alan Williams again proving elusive and opportunistic with eight straight field goals. His play helped the Suns on the 16-5 run from a tie at 86 that tilted the game toward Phoenix. Though the Bulls did rally within 104-103 on a Mirotic three after a Butler offensive rebound with just under two minutes remaining in the game. And then the Bulls tied it at 106 with 48.3 seconds left on a Butler three out of a timeout. Butler had eight points and was three of 13 through three quarters. Butler then made a baseline jumper with 9.1 seconds left for a 108-106 Bulls lead and Wade was called for a questionable foul on Devin Booker shooting a three with 1.5 seconds left. Booker missed the last free throw and the game went into overtime tied at 108.
In overtime, the Bulls scored first on a Butler free throw and then got a Mirotic three, a Butler steal and fast break dunk for a 1116-110 lead and a Wade putback and two free throws for a 122-115 lead with 1:50 left.