Suns' red-hot guard tandem hoping to burn Bulls
The Phoenix Suns' backcourt has been flourishing of late. The Chicago Bulls are once again dealing with an injury to theirs.
In a matchup of teams riding three-game winning streaks, the Suns attempt to finish off a perfect homestand Wednesday night against a Bulls team that may not have Derrick Rose available. The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona and FOX Sports Go beginning at 8 a.m.
Rose exited Monday's game against Indiana midway through the fourth quarter after spraining his left ankle. Though the injury isn't believed to be serious, it wouldn't be surprising if Chicago (7-3) rests the 2011 league MVP considering his history of medical issues and a showdown with defending NBA champion Golden State on tap Friday.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said It is "extremely doubtful" that Derrick Rose (ankle sprain) will play in #SunsVsBulls tonight.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) November 18, 2015
"My ankle is a little bit sore, but I'm just happy nothing's tore or broken," said Rose, who tallied 23 points on a season-best 9-of-18 shooting in the 96-95 win. "I'll be all right."
Kirk Hinrich and E'Twaun Moore both saw time at point guard following Rose's departure, though Chicago will likely lean more heavily on Jimmy Butler if he sits.
That was the case down the stretch Monday, with Butler hitting a key jumper with 1:24 remaining and blocking Paul George on a potential game-winning shot in the final seconds.
Butler finished with 17 points after scoring a season-high 27 in Friday's 102-97 win over Charlotte. The All-Star guard is averaging a team-leading 19.2 per game.
The Suns' best run of the young season has been sparked by strong guard play as well, with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight each averaging 25.7 points in three straight double-digit victories on this homestand.
Knight posted his first career triple-double Monday, compiling 30 points, a career-high 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a 120-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined Magic Johnson, Pete Maravich and Russell Westbrook as the only players in NBA history to record a game with 30 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and four steals.
Bledsoe eclipsed 20 points for a fifth consecutive outing and is scoring 23.0 per game on 49.7 percent shooting, second only to Stephen Curry among guards with at least 100 shot attempts.
"They feed off each other," Lakers guard Lou Williams said of Bledsoe and Knight. "One night Eric Bledsoe can be the high guy then the next night it's Brandon Knight. It's tough to guard guys when they have it going like this."
T.J. Warren also has raised his play, with the second-year forward shooting 65.0 percent while averaging 15.5 points over his last four. He finished 9 of 13 from the field for a career-high 19 points Monday. But Warren missed Wednesday's shootaround due to illness, and his status for the game was in doubt.
T.J. Warren stayed home ill from today's shootaround and is questionable to play in #SunsVsBulls tonight.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) November 18, 2015
"The chemistry for this team is pretty good right now," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "They're all cheering each other on. A good sign for a coach to see is them all supporting each other. When you see that, good things happen."
The Suns (6-4) have won their last two despite Markieff Morris being sidelined by a sprained left knee. He's expected back for this game after practicing fully Tuesday. His career averages of 8.0 points and 27.3 percent shooting versus the Bulls are his worst against any opponent.
Chicago, which is beginning a four-game trip, had won five straight in Phoenix before a 99-93 loss Jan. 30. Pau Gasol had 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Bulls won 112-107 at home in the teams' most recent meeting Feb. 21.