EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns overcome messy play for OT win in Bradley Beal’s debut vs. Bulls

Nov 8, 2023, 9:25 PM

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against Ayo Dosunmu #12 of the Chicago Bul...

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against Ayo Dosunmu #12 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at the United Center on November 08, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

They all count the same, so they say.

The Phoenix Suns somehow managed to unearth a 116-115 overtime win against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday out of a sloppy, disjointed performance.

Phoenix committed 22 turnovers, the majority of which were unforced errors, for 30 Bulls points and also went through a few significant scoring droughts. The Suns had multiple chances in the second half to put Chicago away but didn’t produce a field goal over the remaining 4:45 of regulation.

The next one came via a Keita Bates-Diop 3 nearly four minutes into the five-minute overtime period to put Phoenix within one. He then played outstanding defense on consecutive isolations for DeMar DeRozan to give the Suns a chance still, and Jusuf Nurkic’s difficult finish with seven seconds left sealed the victory.

The Bulls were sending hard double-teams Kevin Durant’s way at every opportunity and stuck All-Defense guard Alex Caruso on him to get under Durant’s handle and limit his opportunities off the bounce. The ball rotations off this were mostly either poor or ended in a missed open 3.

Bradley Beal made his Suns debut but was on a minutes restriction, leaving him on shifts without extended run and not giving Phoenix much of a secondary offensive creator given Eric Gordon’s struggles (1-for-9) and Devin Booker’s (right calf strain) absence.

That’s where Grayson Allen made a bunch of big shots, setting a new career high with eight 3s for a team-high 26 points, plus nine rebounds and four assists.

Nurkic, like Allen, also had his best game as a Sun. He was finishing well around the rim after going through quite the rut there early in the season and was essentially the hub of the offense once Durant was doubled off the ball. Nurkic ended up with 20 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, making him the first Phoenix player to finish with at least that in a game since Charles Barkley in 1996, per Stathead.

And Bates-Diop was the third new arrival to put forth their best performance of the season in this one. His box score of seven points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocks does not tell the tale of how impactful he was. He started again for the third straight game.

Durant added 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists, two steals, a block and six turnovers.

Phoenix scored 25 points in the opening 6:30 of the game before finishing the last 17:30 of the first half with only 32 more points. Chicago’s defense was all out of sorts to begin the game before getting very active and physical, something the Suns couldn’t make a mid-game adjustment to the rest of the way.

Beal was a prominent fixture within the start that put Phoenix up 18 points less than six minutes in. He fed Nurkic for a pair of assists and also hit two wide-open 3s thanks to extra defensive attention on a Nurkic roll and over-helping toward Durant.

Beal was noticeably spent throughout portions of the game, which can likely be attributed to how back injuries specifically can have players behind schedule when ramping up, given that process for Beal didn’t even last a full week despite him missing nearly a month. He checked in for the last three minutes of regulation but did not play in overtime. Beal was 3-for-12 from the field for eight points with four rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes.

Even though the Bulls had their own bits of messy play, this was a really good performance by them once the game got midway through the first quarter. Caruso was everywhere with 19 points, DeRozan contributed 22 and Nikola Vucevic led the way at 26.

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