Bulls fall in Phoenix 113-105

Markkanen puts up 26 and 13 in loss

The sun Sunday failed to shine on the Bulls efforts in a 113-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The Bulls fell to 3-11. The Suns are 7-11.

The Bulls got career high points and rebounds from Lauri Markkanen with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Kris Dunn had 17 points, Robin Lopez with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Justin Holiday 13. Bobby Portis had 12.

The Bulls suffered a long fourth quarter scoring drought with five straight long jumpers that missed to fall behind 106-95. Markkanen and Denzel Valentine then made threes, but a turnovers late from Dunn and Justin Holiday were costly.

The Bulls went with the same starting lineup with Valentine after the win against Charlotte. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said David Nwaba had a bit of a setback with his sprained ankle and was not ready to return. Hoiberg added that Zach LaVine would see his doctor in Los Angeles and then perhaps advance to some practice. It’s too soon to say the Bulls scoring problems to start games are solved, but the Bulls with their 40-point fourth quarter Friday against Charlotte piled on 37 to start against the Suns for a 37-30 lead after one quarter. Lopez led with 10 first quarter points, but the highlight was a flying fast break to close the quarter Dunn sprinting and finding Portis on the wing for a basket and three-point play. It culminated a Bulls run of scoring on six consecutive possessions and 54 percent shooting in the quarter.

But the Suns shot 65 percent in one of those wild Western Conference quarters as the Bulls had seven fast break points. But the Bulls failed to score the first three minutes of the second quarter as the Suns tied the game at 37. Lopez with a follow of a Dunn miss got the Bulls going again and the teams began to exchange leads. There were 10 first half ties and 10 lead changes as the Suns led 61-56 at halftime. With Markkanen playing his first game back in Arizona after attending the U. of Arizona for one season, the Bulls rookie was sharp with 16 first half points, many on post up fadeaway jumpers. The Bulls failed to have a fast break point in the second quarter while the Suns had 10 to take back the momentum. The Bulls ball movement stalled in the second quarter as they had just two assists after eight in the first quarter. The Bulls began to revert to perimeter play again with just four inside points in the second quarter.

The Suns hit the Bulls with a run to start the second half, a 72-64 Phoenix lead. Hoiberg went with Dunn then and he helped change the pace of the game for the Bulls, primarily with his defense. Dunn had a driving two-handed dunk and then in a 7-0 run for the Bulls that gave them an 80-73 lead, Dunn had a pair of steals and another driving dunk. Markkanen continued to shoot well, but took a hard fall in a game becoming frenzied. Robin Lopez got a technical foul and T.J. Warren a flagrant foul 1 in a skirmish as the Suns went on to lead 85-84 after three quarters. Portis and Antonio Blakeney kept the Bulls close in the fourth with long shots. But the Suns were having success again inside and moved out ahead 98-93 with 7:24 left. The Bulls continued to founder defensively as the Suns drove and moved the ball for shots and layups to take a 104-95 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

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