PHOENIX (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls used to have the best go-to guy
in the business when it came time for a game-winning shot. Now they
rarely even need one.
The Bulls found themselves in that unfamiliar position Tuesday
night, and muffed the final play as the Phoenix Suns escaped with a
Shawn Marion had 24 points and 10 rebounds, including a 20-foot
jumper that proved to be the winning basket, for the Suns.
Ron Artest, who scored 26, was supposed to take the last shot
for Chicago, but he decided instead to pass the ball out to A.J.
Guyton who threw up an air ball under pressure from Stephon Marbury
just before the game ended.
"If I had it to do over again, I probably would have took the
shot," Artest said.
Rodney Rogers had 13 points for Phoenix but missed twice to give
Chicago the final shot. Penny Hardaway was 6-for-8 from the field
and had 12 points and seven assists.
The Suns, who earlier this month blew a late lead and lost at
home to Memphis, were in danger of becoming the first Western
Conference team to lose at home to Chicago in 25 tries.
"It's almost like the Lions this year," Hardaway said,
referring to the woeful NFL team in Detroit. "Everybody was trying
not to lose to them. When you play a team like the Bulls that only
has one win on the road this year and they're 0-and-whatever
against the Western Conference, you don't want to be that first
team, so you go in there not to lose rather than playing your same
"I was really disappointed with our shot selection at the end
of the game, and our choices," Chicago coach Bill Cartwright said.
"They were really bad. It's really upsetting because we worked so
hard and didn't give ourselves an honest opportunity to win."
Marion's 20-footer with 1:10 to play, his 11th basket in 18
shots, gave Phoenix a 91-88 lead, but Artest sank two free throws
to cut it to 91-90 with 55.8 seconds to go.
Rogers missed inside, but the Bulls knocked the rebound out of
bounds. Rogers then missed from 20, and Chicago's Trenton Hassell
grabbed the rebound, then the Bulls called timeout with 22.5
seconds to play.
The Suns used a 17-4 run to go up 72-63 on Hardaway's 10-footer
from the baseline with 3:21 left in the third quarter. Stephon
Marbury scored six of his nine points, while Hardaway and Marion
had four apiece during the run. Chicago had three 24-second
violations in the third quarter, and Phoenix led 76-68 entering
Bo Outlaw's three-point play capped a 7-2 surge that put Phoenix
up 89-85 with 3:07 remaining, but Artest's 3-pointer cut it to
89-88 2:10 from the finish.
Phoenix shot 54 percent but matched a season-high with 22
turnovers, resulting in 23 points for Chicago.
"We turned it over so many times," coach Scott Skiles said.
"It's hard to run your offense when you having trouble just
handling the ball and passing it to each other."
The Bulls led 55-53 after a sloppy first half. Both teams were
23-for-37 in the first half -- 62 percent.
Game notes The Suns have no representative in the All-Star game for
the first time since 1997. ... Phoenix's Tom Gugliotta has a stress
reaction in his right foot and will remain on the injured list for
at least another week. He has been sidelined since Jan. 8 with
tendinitis in his left quadriceps. ... Chicago shot 62 percent in
the first half and 32 percent in the second. ... The Bulls played
the first of five in a row on the road. ... Phoenix also had 22
turnovers against Memphis and Denver.