Drew Eubanks sparks Suns’ run after hard foul, technical on Bulls

Jan 23, 2024, 7:25 AM

Drew Eubanks...

Andre Drummond #3 of the Chicago Bulls knocks the ball away from Drew Eubanks #14 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half at Footprint Center on January 22, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns’ 23-point comeback over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night will be remembered for Kevin Durant’s game-winning shot and 43 points, but Drew Eubanks came off the bench and was instrumental to the win.

Eubanks scored eight points with seven rebounds in the second half, but technical fouls, hustle plays and a key offensive rebound highlighted a performance head coach Frank Vogel felt was the veteran’s best as a member of the Suns.

Bradley Beal missed a floater down 111-110 with 32 seconds remaining in the game, and Eubanks wrestled the rebound away and kicked out to Devin Booker. Booker flipped the ball to Durant wide open at the top of the key, and he drilled a go-ahead shot. Durant later hit a game-winner with 1.6 seconds left, 115-113.

Eubanks’ impact started much earlier, as he was hit with a technical foul when the Suns trailed 87-70 at 3:39 left in the third quarter. He gave a slight push off Bulls guard Coby White after jumping for a rebound, which Eubanks said postgame was incidental.

White made the free throw, then Eubanks knocked down a couple foul shots on the other end. The following Bulls possession led to big man Andre Drummond having position down low with the ball, so Eubanks did what he was instructed to do, the break glass in case of emergency: wrap up Drummond to send a poor free-throw shooter to the line.

Eubanks came across hard on Drummond’s arms to prevent an and-one, and the Bulls center took exception. Drummond gave a shove to Eubanks from behind and Eubanks threw his hands up. The technical foul called got the crowd at Footprint Center into it.

“It was just a hard foul. He was a foul guy, he gets underneath the rim we got to foul him,” Eubanks said. “I’ve had my battles with him over the last couple of years. We got a mutual respect for each other. I got to hit him. He’s huge. … I think the technical that I got, got the crowd into it and then him pushing me in the back, not saying anything by that, but him pushing me and him getting the technical really got the crowd into it.”

“That’s a point of emphasis, if Andre gets you under the paint in a compromised position, try to wrap him up as best as you can,” Durant said. “I played with Dre, I understand why he — that foul was pretty hard — I understand why he was upset at it, I understand why Drew took the foul, as well. It’s just part of the game. And sometimes the ref needs to get in and give some techs so we can clear that up. They got past it and was able to play a physical, clean game after that.”

Booker’s technical foul shot didn’t even go down, but the Suns outscored the Bulls 11-1 the rest of the period. Eubanks dunked on Phoenix’s next two possessions after the Drummond tech, both assisted by Durant who made a pair of shots during the stretch.

Eubanks hit a hook shot early in the fourth quarter before coming out, but he reentered the game with 6:05 remaining. He played 22 minutes on Monday, his most since Phoenix’s fifth game of the year on Nov. 2.

“My job right now on this team is get them open, roll hard and make the the defense collapse and find shooters and they were hugged up on their guys and KD did a great job of finding me underneath,” Eubanks said. “Just trying to find that chemistry with some of the rotations, sometimes guys will play, sometimes they won’t. Next man up mentality.”

Eubanks finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a game-high +19. His four assists matched a season high.

He had only played in eight of 13 games since Christmas while his average in minutes has gone down dramatically to end an uneven first half of the season.

“He’s had a rough stretch where he hasn’t played his best basketball, but he’s been staying with it, working with coaches and watching film,” Vogel said. “I keep having one-on-one conversations with him to keep make sure he’s staying lifted … his energy really changed the game. We’re able to get a lot more aggressive with the pick-and-roll coverages, and we’ve been really working with him when the ball finds him in the pocket against double teams making the right reads. He made some great plays with those situations, so he was great.”

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