Jimmy Butler
Suns-Bulls Preview
Jimmy Butler

Suns-Bulls Preview

Published Dec. 6, 2015 11:49 p.m. ET

Phoenix's exhausting road trip ends in Chicago, where the Bulls hope to awaken their sleepy offense.

The Suns close a six-game stint away from home Monday night when they visit a Bulls team searching for a bounce-back performance.

Chicago (11-6) opened the season with seven wins in eight games at the United Center and won four straight there entering Saturday's contest against Charlotte.

But a run of subpar shooting continued with a 102-96 loss to the Hornets, the Bulls' third in six games. They shot 41.6 percent while falling short of 100 points for the sixth straight game, a spurt during which they are shooting 39.6 percent.


The Bulls made just two of their final 10 shots after the score was tied with 5:10 left.

''We missed some really, really good looks,'' coach Fred Hoiberg said. ''Even Doug (McDermott) and Jimmy (Butler) there at the end, they had great looks that hit every part of the rim and bounced out.''

Butler finished with 25 points while making 8 of 18 shots, and Derrick Rose ended his stretch of poor shooting with 19 while finishing 8 of 17 from the field. McDermott chipped in 13, but the rest of the Bulls finished 16 of 45.

Chicago also made just 13 of 19 free throws and has hit just 69.7 percent at the stripe in the last three games.

To Butler, though, the offensive end isn't the issue.

"We score enough points," Butler told the team's official website. "It's all about our energy level, guarding at times and know the other team's personnel. We're a good team. We mess up here and there, but we'll fix it."

A good chance for the Bulls to wake up comes against a Suns team they have owned in recent seasons. Chicago has won 11 of 14 in this series, including a 103-97 victory on Nov. 18 in Phoenix as Butler had 32.

Phoenix (8-13) is 3-8 on the road and has stumbled through its road trip. The Suns opened with a 107-102 win in Toronto but dropped games at Brooklyn, Detroit, Washington and Memphis by a combined 13 points.

Sunday's 95-93 loss to the Grizzlies was sealed by Jeff Green's dunk off an inbounds pass with 0.5 seconds left, erasing Phoenix's rally from six points down in the final 90 seconds.

''There's no way that game doesn't go into overtime, at least,'' P.J. Tucker said. ''But the fate of the Suns right now is crazy.''

Phoenix has eight losses by six points or fewer. The latest tight one came after Eric Bledsoe scored a game-high 23 points and Brandon Knight added 17.

The Suns have played their entire road trip without center Tyson Chandler, who has been out with a right hamstring injury. Alex Len has averaged 9.0 points and 7.8 rebounds while starting the last five games in his place.

Chandler hasn't practiced with the team all week, so his return is iffy.

The Bulls' Nikola Mirotic returned against Charlotte after passing the NBA's concussion protocol following Wednesday's 99-90 win over Denver. Kirk Hinrich also returned after missing two games with a left hip pointer.


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