Suns take down Bulls, end five-game skid
CHICAGO (AP) -- The United Center is becoming a friendly place for visiting teams.
Luis Scola scored 22 points to help the Phoenix Suns beat the Chicago Bulls 97-81 Saturday night, snapping a five-game losing streak. Michael Beasley added 20 points for Phoenix, which had lost 12 straight on the road and got its first road win since beating Cleveland on Nov. 27.
The Suns got the 2,000th win in franchise history, accomplishing the feat in their 3,599th game to become the fourth-fastest team to the reach the milestone.
"It was a much needed win for us," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "When you (win No. 2,000) against a historical team like the Bulls and all they've meant to this league, it really is a great achievement."
Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Joakin Noah added 10 points and 13 boards for Chicago, which continued its inconsistent play at home with its fourth loss in the last six. The Bulls, 10-10 at home this season, lost for just the second time in 13 games when both Boozer and Noah recorded double-doubles.
Phoenix joined a list of underachieving teams who have recently won at Chicago. The Bulls were outhustled at home on Dec. 31st by a Charlotte team that had lost 18 in a row, then on Wednesday by a Milwaukee team that had lost four of five and recently changed head coaches.
Chicago's home struggles are more surprising considering they have won 10 of 15 on the road, including high-profile wins at New York and Miami in the last eight days.
"We're going on the road and beating some of the best teams, then coming home against lower-echelon teams and not competing," Noah said. "If we all knew what the problem was, we'd do something about it."
Phoenix shot almost 50 percent from the floor to make up for losing the turnover matchup and getting doubled up on the offensive boards. The Suns had shot under 40 percent three of the last four games and were held under 80 points the last two.
"For the first time in a very long time we played and executed well for four quarters," Gentry said.
The Suns scored just 26 points in the second half Friday night at Brooklyn, the second-worst half in franchise history.
Phoenix looked like a completely different team against one of the NBA's top defenses, and did it without one of their leading scorers, Jared Dudley, who suffered a bruised right hand against the Nets.
Scola led Phoenix with 10 first-quarter points, then Beasley had 14 in the second, shooting 7 for 8, as the Suns led 49-42 at the break.
Beasley's 20 points marked his best output since scoring 21 against the Clippers on Dec. 8.
"I was shooting tonight like I really wanted to make it," Beasley said. "It is the first time in a long time I have felt that way and had the confidence."
Chicago was whistled for four technical fouls, capped by coach Tom Thibodeau's penalty with 3:57 left in the fourth. Nate Robinson was issued one minutes earlier, and Boozer and Luol Deng were each given technicals in the third.
"We just got frustrated," Boozer admitted. "It wasn't the refs' fault, it was on us. Usually we don't lose our composure like that."
Boozer was held without a field goal for the first 22 minutes, and Chicago missed all four of its 3-point attempts in the first half.
The Bulls shot 36.4 percent from the floor and 18.2 percent from range, matching a season-low by hitting just two 3s.
"We have to play with more intensity, more of an edge," Thibodeau said. "We are not doing that. We have to correct it."
NOTES: Gentry said Dudley will need an X-ray on his right hand to determine the extent of the injury. ... Chicago-area native Shannon Brown had 11 points starting in place of Dudley. ... Banged up Bulls G Kirk Hinrich had one point and three assists in 23 minutes. Thibodeau said prior to the game that Hinrich will continue to be day-to-day as he manages an array of injuries.