Suns-Bulls Preview

Another sluggish performance could lead to more apologies from Derrick Rose, but that may not be necessary against the struggling Phoenix Suns.

Rose will try to bounce back from one of his worst performances of the season Saturday night when the Bulls open a season-high seven-game homestand against the new-look Suns.

Rose is averaging 18.7 points, but he wasn’t even close to reaching that Friday. The star guard scored eight on 2-of-9 shooting with six turnovers in a 100-91 loss at Detroit in Chicago’s return from the All-Star break.

It was also Rose’s return to the court. He reportedly missed practice due to unspecified "travel issues," and apologized to his teammates.

"I was just missing shots, I guess," Rose said. "I didn’t touch the ball for a couple days, and coming back, I just couldn’t catch a rhythm. They were aggressive and I couldn’t find my game. Thank God we’ve got another game (Saturday), because this one hurt."

Perhaps a return to Chicago (34-21) can get Rose going. He’s averaging 24.8 points on 49.2 percent shooting over the last six games there, scoring 30 with seven assists in a 113-98 win over Cleveland on Feb. 12 before entering the break.

The Bulls could use a similar performance as they try to widen their one-half game lead on the second-place Cavaliers in the Central Division race.

Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 30 points Friday after missing the matchup with Cleveland due to a right shoulder strain.

Butler combined with Rose and fellow guard Aaron Brooks to total 66 points at Phoenix on Jan. 30, but that wasn’t enough in a 99-93 defeat.

The Suns (29-26) are expected to have a slew of new faces in this matchup after undergoing a roster overhaul before Thursday’s trade deadline.

They should have guards Brandon Knight and Marcus Thornton available after both were acquired in separate deals with Milwaukee and Boston, respectively. Disgruntled guard Goran Dragic and his brother Zoran Dragic were traded to Miami, Isaiah Thomas to the Celtics and Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee went to the Bucks.

Phoenix, which has lost six of seven, is one-half game behind Oklahoma City for eighth in the Western Conference.

"Honestly, I think we need to stay off social media and just stay away from that, just keep everything in house and focus on ourselves and focus on this team," forward Markieff Morris said of the recent criticisms lobbed at the team for the trades and recent struggles. "We’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs and we’ve just got to stay together."

The Suns dressed only 10 players Friday at Minnesota due to the deals and lost their sixth straight road game, 111-109. Morris led seven players in double figures with 31 points after he totaled 36 in his three previous games.

Having Knight, who was averaging a team-leading 17.8 points for the Bucks, and Thornton available could help Phoenix avoid its first seven-game road skid since March 8-April 9, 2013.

Knight has averaged 20.3 points in his last three games at Chicago while Thornton has scored 18.5 in his past four.

The Bulls have won nine of 12 against the Suns.