The Chicago Bulls followed one of the most impressive victories in the NBA this season with what may have been an even worse loss.
They’ll try to bounce back Friday night against the Phoenix Suns, who hope Isaiah Thomas can remain hot as they cap their longest-ever homestand.
The Bulls (30-18) knocked off league-leading Golden State 113-111 in overtime Tuesday to open a six-game trip. They couldn’t sustain their momentum, however, falling 123-118 in double overtime Thursday against the Lakers, who had lost nine straight and are without Kobe Bryant for the remainder of the season.
"In this league, if one team is playing with great intensity and the other one lets up just a slight bit, the players in this league are too good," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We’ve played low-energy (basketball), and then it came down to a miracle comeback to get it to overtime."
Chicago gave up 68 points in the paint – the most it had allowed since giving up as many in a 119-118 overtime loss to Denver on March 18. Derrick Rose, who had gone 13 for 33 with a career-high 11 turnovers against the Warriors but hit the game-winner, was 7 of 26 with five turnovers.
The Bulls are 7-6 on the second night of back-to-backs and Rose is averaging 14.7 points on just 36.1 percent shooting while playing in seven.
Jimmy Butler, who missed Tuesday’s game with an illness, tied his career high with 35 points after being named an All-Star reserve earlier in the day. He had been limited to 14.9 points per game in his previous 11, down from his season average of 20.4.
The Suns (27-20) are 5-2 on their eight-game homestand after Wednesday’s 106-98 win over Washington. They’re averaging 112.8 points on 49.2 percent shooting while winning eight of 10 at home following a 6-7 start. They hit 11 3-pointers against the Wizards, the fourth time in five games they’ve made at least 10.
Chicago has held its last five opponents to 26.6 percent 3-point shooting.
Thomas, who scored 18 and was 4 of 8 from deep, is 19 of 37 from 3-point range in his last five games while averaging 23.2 points. He averaged 22.3 points over his last three meetings with the Bulls and is 7 of 14 from beyond in the arc in his last five matchups.
Phoenix must protect its leads better after nearly squandering a 22-point lead against the Wizards, however. The Suns faltered late in Sunday’s 120-100 loss to the Clippers, getting outscored by 22 in the second half.
"We’ve seen it happen, when we get up we have a tendency to do whatever and not be solid," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Some of that is the pace. That’s how we get the lead – all of a sudden we’re coming down and we hit two or three 3s in a row … Then you have that same stretch of time and you come down and miss two or three in a row and it can reverse quickly the other way."
Goran Dragic appears to be back on track, scoring 20 on 8-of-15 shooting after totaling 12 points on 4 of 16 from the field in back-to-back losses.
The Bulls have won nine of the last 11 meetings, including five straight in Phoenix.
Rose has averaged 25.5 points on 53.9 percent shooting in six career matchups, but hasn’t faced the Suns since April 5, 2011.