Suns Make Valiant Comeback That Falls Short, Lose 97-94 To Bulls

The Suns fell behind by double digits, but made a gritty comeback in the fourth quarter that ultimately wasn't enough. Phoenix is now three games under .500.

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Nash, Suns Almost Make It A Comeback, But Don't And Lose To Bulls

And the losing continues. The Phoenix Suns, after falling to the Chicago Bulls in a close-ish 97-94 game, are now creeping precipitously close to the furtherest they've been below .500 (which was 14-20 back on January 7). This was not a game in which anyone expected a victory, however, as the Bulls are 34-5 at home and one of the hottest teams in the league heading towards the playoffs.

Phoenix kept things close to start out the game, leading for most of the first quarter before ending it trailing by one. But it was all downhill when the reserves were inserted into the game. By halftime, the Suns were down by 13, a deficit that was pushed to 22 in the third quarter. Like a bored cat playing with its food, the Bulls let Phoenix back into it in the fourth quarter, who eventually closed the gap to two points. By then, however, the damage was done and Steve Nash and his buddies were left with another deflating L in a season full of them.

Leading the Suns, Nash had 16 assists after missing the past two games with flu-like symptoms, Marcin Gortat had another double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds), "fan favorite" Vince "Dribble Into The Double-Team Then Shoot a Contested Fade-away" Carter scored a lot of points in a loss (23 on 9-for-22 shooting), Channing Frye had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Robin Lopez had an impressive four personal fouls in three minutes of play.

Grant Hill did manage to keep potential league MVP Derrick Rose under control for the most part, limiting him to 19 points on 6-for-15 shooting and only four assists. So that's good.

At this point, the team is really only playing for pride and supposedly comebacks from large deficits show that there's pride and fight left. But what does it say getting down by 22 points in the first place? This is a team with an eye toward the offseason, and can only manage bits and pieces of "fight" and "grit," which may be enough to get them back to .500 before the season's end.

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Phoenix Suns Schedule: The End Is Near, But Not For The Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are getting so much love now from the NBA media that they've gone from early season darling to late season favorite. With the Celtics reeling after the Kendrick Perkins trade and the Magic and Heat sporting seriously flawed rosters, Derrick Rose's team very well could come out of the East and put Chicago back into the NBA Finals.

For the Phoenix Suns, this game is all about heart and pride and no small amount of self-interest. Alvin Gentry and several players were unhappy with the poor effort displayed in Sunday's blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs and the coach made it clear that effort isn't optional.

"We have to have all our guys playing hard. It can't be just a selective few. The only thing I am obligated to do is to have the team prepared to play, and the only thing they are obligated to do is compete hard," Gentry told the Arizona Republic.

There's a few guys on this team who will, or will not, be back next year based on what kind of toughness they show over these final few games. We're looking at you Aaron Brooks, Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick.

Steve Nash is back with the team and feeling better. Now the the Suns have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, we probably won't see him or Grant Hill played more than 25 or possibly 30 minutes. Nash proclaimed his health status in this bitingly sarcastic tweet:

Guys, I'm feeling better this morning. I should feel great by the playoffs!!less than a minute ago via Echofon   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

 

Ouch.

For the Bulls, center Joakim Noah (andkle) is expected to play after missing a week and play and practice.

The game tips at 5:00 p.m. local time on My45 and will be broadcast on Sports 620 radio. Fans can follow along during the game with other Suns fans at the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.     

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