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Suns’ win fueled by Alex Len’s double-double in return to rotation

Phoenix Suns' Alex Len (21) dunks between Chicago Bulls' Denzel Valentine (45) and Antonio Blakeney during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Chicago. The Suns won 104-99. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

When centers Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe and Alex Len were all healthy for the Phoenix Suns, it was Len who was the odd man out of the rotation.

Interim head coach Jay Triano did not play Len in the team’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 22. Len would go on to play 19 minutes against the Pelicans when both Monroe and Chandler started but received another DNP-CD the next game against Minnesota.

It was a surprise, then, to see Len back in the rotation, playing as the team’s backup center ahead of Monroe in the Suns’ 103-96 win over the Chicago Bulls Tuesday.

It was an opportunity for Len, who was playing well this season, to prove it was a mistake to move him out.

He did just that, tying a career high for rebounds with 18 to go along with 13 points. That gave him his fourth double-double of the season, a team-high.

He was aggressive on the glass on both ends, snagging a game-high six offensive rebounds.

Len has been one of the best rebounders in the league this season.

Entering Tuesday’s action, Len ranked ninth in rebounding percentage among players who average at least 20 minutes a game, per nba.com. When that group is deluded down to bench players, Len’s 21.8 rebounding percentage is the top number, nearly four points higher than Atlanta rookie John Collins’ 17.9 rebounding percentage in second.

Phoenix (8-14) snapped a three-game losing streak and have now swept the Bulls (3-16) in the season series.

The Suns received strong contributions from Devin Booker and T.J. Warren.

Booker shot 10-of-23 from the floor, scoring 33 points and adding on nine rebounds and four assists. Warren shot 50 percent on his 20 field goal attempts, scoring 25 with seven rebounds.

The Bulls’ starting backcourt of Kris Dunn and Justin Holiday had 49 combined points, keeping the game competitive and close in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.

After Chicago made it a five-point game with 36 seconds left, Booker’s turnover appeared to have cut the lead down to a one-possession game, but he then came out of nowhere for the chase-down block to seal the win.

Tyler Ulis had another strong game, scoring 14 points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out six assists.

Following a poor start to the season, Ulis has bounced back in his last four games.

Second-year power forward Dragan Bender got his first career start and didn’t do much with it. He had zero points, four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes.

Chandler got the start at center while Monroe did not play.

UP NEXT

Phoenix goes to Detroit to take on the Pistons on Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back. Len and the Suns will have their hands full, as Detroit’s Andre Drummond leads the league with 15.6 rebounds per game.

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