Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/31

Game 1: Saturday, December 31st
Game 2: Saturday, February 4th

Bulls 101

(20-26, 10-13 away)

Suns 118

(31-16, 17-7 home)

    Coverage: WGN

    7:00 PM ET, February 4, 2006

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHI 25 25 20 31101
    PHX 27 25 38 28118

    Top Performers

    Chicago: B. Gordon 39 Pts, 8 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl

    Phoenix: S. Marion 26 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Suns send Bulls to third straight loss

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Unaccustomed as they were to playing at home recently, the Phoenix Suns were rusty in the first half against the Chicago Bulls. Once they found the range in the second half, it was no contest.

    Shawn Marion had 26 points and 11 rebounds, All-Star game starter Steve Nash added 21 points and seven assists, and the Suns beat the Bulls 118-101 Saturday night for their third straight victory.

    In defeating the Bulls for the eighth consecutive time on their home court, the Suns increased their Pacific Division lead to 2½ games over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The loss was the third in a row for the Bulls on their seven-game, 14-day road trip against Western Conference opponents.

    Phoenix, coming off a six-game, nine-day road trip, hit only 38 percent of its shots (18-for-47) in the first half. In the second half, the Suns were 25-for-42 (59 percent), including 14-of-21 (67 percent) in the decisive third quarter when they outscored Chicago 38-20.

    "In the third quarter, we did a great job of moving the ball and getting good looks, and at the same time, we were really active defensively," Nash said.

    By the end of the third quarter, the Suns had increased their halftime lead of two points to 90-70.

    "Being up by 20 after three periods is better than being up by 20 at halftime," Nash added. "After halftime, it gives them more time to get back into it. Being up by 20 after three periods demoralizes them."

    Marion agreed that the third period was the turning point.

    "We came out and opened up the game on both ends of the floor," he said. "It was rough in the first half, because they were hitting 50 percent of their shots. In the third quarter, we got some stops and came out running. We took them out of their rhythm and started doing what we do best."

    Ben Gordon was the major bright spot for the Bulls, scoring a career-best 39 points on 14 of 21 shooting. He hit a team-record nine 3-pointers, surpassing the team record of eight set last season by Chris Duhon.

    Raja Bell added 17 points for the Suns, James Jones and Eddie House had 14 apiece, and Boris Diaw had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

    The Suns made 17 3-pointers, one off their season high and two off their team record.

    "With a team like that, that has so many good perimeter shooters, you can't make that many defensive mistakes," Gordon said. "They just shot the heck out of the ball."

    Gordon downplayed his performance. "Points don't mean anything in a loss," he said. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to get us a win."

    Luol Deng scored 17 points and Michael Sweetney had 14 for Chicago.

    Chicago coach Scott Skiles said the Bulls were fortunate to be trailing by only two points at halftime, because the Suns missed several open shots.

    "But in the second half, they were putting them in and they ended it pretty quickly," Skiles said.

    The Suns led 52-50 at halftime, thanks to Marion and Nash, the only Phoenix players to hit more than 50 percent of their shots, and their 3-point shooting -- they hit 8-of-20. Marion finished the half with 16 points and Nash scored 15.

    The usually supercharged Suns also had a big advantage in fast-break points, as expected, outscoring the slowdown Bulls 12-6.

    However, the pinpoint shooting of Gordon and the board work of Tyson Chandler kept the Bulls close. Gordon hit Chicago's only four 3-pointers of the half and scored 20 points, including a coast-to-coast driving layup just before the buzzer.

    Chandler nearly had a double-double by halftime with 11 rebounds and nine points, but he didn't score in the second half and grabbed only one rebound.

    The Bulls dominated inside, with Chandler, Sweetney, Andres Nocioni and Othella Harrington accounting for 28 points in the half. By comparison, the Suns had only 12 points underneath.

    Game notes

    The Bulls, a playoff team last season, are in last place in the Central Division, 19 games behind first-place Detroit. ... Saturday's game began a stretch in which the Suns will have nine home games, 20 off days and two road games until March 5. ... The Suns' only overtime win in five OT games this season was against the Bulls, 107-98 at Chicago on Dec. 31. ... Chicago has not won at Phoenix since Nov. 20, 1996, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen each scored 37 points in a 113-99 victory. ... Phil Mickelson, winner of two major golf titles, was a courtside spectator.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 101 118
    FGM-FGA 40-90 (.444) 43-89 (.483)
    3PM-3PA 10-27 (.370) 17-39 (.436)
    FTM-FTA 11-16 (.688) 15-19 (.789)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-44 11-48
    Assists 18 30
    Turnovers 12 15
    Steals 5 6
    Blocks 2 2
    Fast Break Points 10 20
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 4 26

    Top Performers

    Ben Gordon Gordon
    Points: 39
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 26
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1