Suns slam door on Chicago Bulls with dominant fourth quarter

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges, left, and Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams battle for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021.

    Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges, left, and Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams battle for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021.

 
 
Updated 2/26/2021 10:47 PM

There aren't many quick fixes in the NBA. Learning how to win is a process, and it takes longer for some teams than others.

The Bulls seemed on the verge of a quality victory Friday at the United Center, building a 16-point lead in the third quarter against Phoenix.

 

Instead, it was a lesson in how to slam the door. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they were the ones with their fingers caught in the door jamb.

The Suns dominated the fourth quarter 32-16 and won going away 106-97. The Bulls hit 5 of 15 shots with 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

There was a good mix of things that went wrong, just general poor decisions. They were called for setting illegal screens, driving into traffic and driving within range of Suns center DeAndre Ayton, who had 3 blocks down the stretch.

"I think we got away from our ball movement and started trying to create a little bit more," veteran forward Thad Young said. "Ball movement is huge for us as a team. I always talk about light switches. We were doing one thing the first half, then we went to something completely different in the second half."

Bulls players took a long time getting to postgame interviews, then Young and Coby White said the players were sitting around the locker room discussing what they could have done better. When you fail a test, it just shows you need to study harder.

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"Everybody usually ices after a game," White said. "We were all talking about it, talking about what we could have done better. It's not the first time we've done that this year. We've done it quite often. Whatever we've got to do to win and fix things, that's what we're going to do."

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 24 points, one of his lower scoring games of the past month. White had 19, Young contributed a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. But LaVine was tagged for 4 of the fourth-quarter turnovers.

The Bulls have lost some heartbreakers this season, including some miracle late shots. This time, their own mistakes did them in, along with a team that's obviously better at finishing games right now.

"You can just see the disappointment in their face, because they knew that probably for at least three quarters we were playing really good basketball and we were hanging in there toe to toe," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"They're working to take another step and they've got to figure out against really good teams. You just can't overcome that. They physically put a lot into the game and emotionally put a lot into the game."

Actually, it could be argued the Suns found a quick fix by adding veteran point guard Chris Paul this season. But they started to turn the corner by going unbeaten in the Orlando bubble last summer. Donovan coached Paul last season in Oklahoma City, and White considers Paul a mentor after playing for his AAU team.

"I've been learning from him since I was 15, 16 years old," White said. "I'll keep learning from him."

White left the game at the end of the third quarter after a knee-to-knee collision with former Bull E'Twaun Moore. But he came back to finish the fourth quarter.

"I've got a little bone bruise, but nothing too major," White said.

The Bulls got a boost from backup center Luke Kornet, who hit 3 straight 3-pointers in the third quarter and scored 11 points. Benet Academy grad Frank Kaminsky scored 15 points for Phoenix.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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