Bulls, Suns -- two struggling teams meet in Chicago (Nov 28, 2017)
CHICAGO -- With just 10 victories between them, the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls have experienced their share of headaches this season.
Both are in the midst of losing streaks, with the Suns having dropped three straight heading into a Tuesday road game against the Bulls, who have lost five in a row.
Both Suns interim coach Jay Triano and Bulls boss Fred Hoiberg are attempting to remain patient as their teams work through their issues.
At this point, it is about all they can do.
The Suns (7-14) arrive in Chicago looking for answers after kicking off a six-game road trip on Sunday with a 119-108 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Defensive ineffectiveness was again a problem for the Suns, who hope to get shooting guard Devin Booker back after he sat out Sunday due to inflammation in his right toe.
Swelling in his toe became problematic enough to force him out of the lineup, but Booker said he hopes to play against the Bulls.
While Booker's absence was felt, Phoenix's defensive breakdowns were more of an issue.
The Suns have allowed at least 110 points in five of their past six games.
In the midst of Phoenix's struggles, Triano has not been able to come up with a reliable rotation. As Triano settles into his new responsibilities after taking over for Earl Watson, who was fired last month, he has admitted in recent days questioning himself and his methods in trying to keep Phoenix competitive.
But like Triano, Suns players realize the process of rebuilding is going to require time.
"When you're this young, you're going to experiment a lot," forward Jared Dudley said after the Sunday loss, according to the Arizona Republic. "Sometimes it's going to be a good experience, sometimes it's going to be a bad experience. Right now, we haven't found a lineup that's played well enough together that they've demanded playing time."
The Bulls, meanwhile, are going through their own difficulties.
Chicago (3-15) extended its losing streak on Sunday with a 100-93 defeat to the visiting Miami Heat. Despite staying close for much of the game, the Bulls were unable to do enough after coming off a taxing 0-4 West Coast road trip that included a pair of blowout losses.
Hoiberg said Sunday that while he liked the competitiveness his team showed in responding to a humbling 143-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, he is still noticing a tendency among his players to drop their heads when adversity hits.
That wasn't as much of an issue Sunday against the Heat, and Hoiberg counted that as a moral victory, undesirable as it may be. Players acknowledged they are showing signs of improvement at times, but the losing isn't getting easier to deal with.
"Nobody on our team wants to learn from losing," Chicago guard/forward Denzel Valentine said. "Everyone want to learn by winning. But at the same time, all you can do is go out and compete."
On Monday, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic practiced for the first time since Oct. 17, when he sustained two broken bones in his face and a concussion in a fight in practice with teammate Bobby Portis. There is still no timetable for Mirotic to return to play in games, but team chemistry remains a concern since Mirotic and Portis still haven't spoken since the altercation.