National Basketball Association
Phoenix at Chicago
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 24, 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Bulls were involved in some wild trade rumors in the days leading up to the NBA's Thursday deadline but ended up hanging onto All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler and instead sent small forward Doug McDermott and starting power forward Taj Gibson to Oklahoma City. The Phoenix Suns, who visit the Bulls on Friday, decided to stick with their core at the deadline as well and will bring Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and company on the three-game road trip.
Chicago was one of the more difficult teams on which to get an accurate reading over the first 57 games and followed up three losses by an average of 25.7 points on the road with home wins over Eastern Conference powers Toronto and Boston prior to the break. Despite the up-and-down performance thus far, the Bulls enter the stretch drive in seventh place in the East and just one game behind the sixth-place Indiana Pacers. The Suns, who trounced Chicago 115-97 at home on Feb. 10, are much further from contention and own the fewest wins in the Western Conference. The victory over the Bulls marked the only time Phoenix, which is 29th in the NBA in scoring defense, held a team under 100 points in the last 20 contests.TV:
8 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), WGN (Chicago)ABOUT THE SUNS (18-39):
Bledsoe capped off the first 57 games with a triple-double (25 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) in a 137-101 win over the Los Angeles Lakers prior to the break and went 18-of-36 from the field in the final two games after battling through a shooting slump earlier in February. The 20-year-old Booker scored 17 points in the Rising Stars Game and competed in the skills challenge during All-Star weekend, and is looking like a player who can make annual appearances during All-Star weekend. Booker is averaging 21.1 points and scored at least 20 points in 20 of the last 22 games before the break.
ABOUT THE BULLS (28-29):
Butler missed four of five games with a heel injury but returned for the wins over Toronto and Boston, and buried the game-winning jumper in the 104-103 triumph over the Celtics. The 27-year-old is intent on leading his team to the postseason and needs to keep the team focused on the Suns with a key trip to Cleveland looming on Saturday. "We’re home. We want to start on the right foot," Butler told the team's website. "Everyone has had rest now, but come in ready to go, locked in. The season isn’t over yet. You can’t really say it hasn’t been challenging. We can be in the playoffs and go from there. We have a big month ahead of us."BUZZER BEATERS
1. The Bulls received PG Cameron Payne, C Joffrey Lauvergne and SF Anthony Morrow from the Thunder.
2. The Suns sent veteran PF P.J. Tucker to Toronto in exchange for C Jared Sullinger and a pair of second-round draft picks.
3. Phoenix took the last two meetings, including a 103-101 win at Chicago last season.PREDICTION:
Bulls 112, Suns 101
Stats and Records