BULLet Points: Suns beat the buzzer after Bulls cough up a big lead

Twice in a row, the Bulls have faltered in crunch time and lost a very winnable game. After Saturday’s loss, I expected to see a different kind of performance from the Bulls tonight. For at least one quarter of the game, they looked like they would beat the Suns pretty easily. Then, thanks largely to a huge outpouring from Brandon Knight, Phoenix eroded the lead Chicago had built in the third quarter, ultimately winning on an absurd final shot from Mirza Teletovic. The Suns won 103-101 as the Bulls dropped to 11-7.

  • After Saturday’s game, I mentioned that Tony Snell’s presence on the offense had all but evaporated. He was still in the starting five, but barely contributing to the team in any sort of productive or meaningful way. He was like a different player on Monday against Phoenix. He nearly doubled his minutes from Saturday, and deservedly so. Snell put up 10 points and had 2 rebounds and an assist. Most notably, he finished the night at a +13. He was effective in transition, and even on plays where he didn’t score or get the assist, he helped create scoring opportunities. Let’s hope he continues this kind of play.
  • Prior to the start of the game, CSN shared that the Bulls have averaged about 27 points in the first quarter in games that they go on to win, and just 22 in games that they go on to lose. This didn’t hold true against the Suns, as they scored 30 in the first quarter but went on to lose anyway. Still interesting.
  • The Bulls utilized an extremely strong third quarter to make it appear as if they were going to run away with this one easily. They went on a 7-0 run in the first 1:45 of the second half and outscored the Suns 26-10 in the third quarter. Unfortunately, they allowed 42 points in the fourth to eradicate the healthy lead that they had built.
  • The final period is proving to be a problem area for the Bulls, particularly in these losses; they’ve allowed 72 points in the past two fourth quarters. It may be something that Fred Hoiberg will need to work actively to address if it continues. The Suns are young and talented, but they should never be able to score 42 points on the Bulls in any quarter.
  • Speaking of the fourth, Brandon Knight was the catalyst for the Phoenix win. He had been largely a non-factor until that point, but finished with 21 points. He was also 6/7 from the free throw line, providing key points in the final minutes of the game. The Suns built on an 11-2 run in the beginning of the fourth quarter to chip away at the Bulls’ lead before Mirza Teletovic made a ridiculous putback jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining.

  • Really, this was yet another game that it feels like the Bulls just let get away. And, even worse than Saturday’s game against the Hornets, they allowed a very comfortable lead to be snatched way in the final quarter. The Suns were 8-13 going into this game, and again I have to wonder about the Bulls’ habit of “playing down” to teams that are not as talented.
  • Coming up: the Bulls will have a tough matchup in their next game, as they head to Boston to take on the 12-9 Celtics. They’ll return home to the United Center the very next night for another difficult game against the Clippers, so buckle in.
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