Suns hope good fortune continues vs. Bulls

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Monday, March 18, 2019

When you have won just 17 games with only 11 remaining in the season, luck probably hasn't been on your side too often.

The Phoenix Suns were finally served a major helping of good fortune and look to ride the momentum when they host the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Suns appeared headed to double-overtime or perhaps losing on a last-second shot when the New Orleans Pelicans rolled the ball inbounds with 1.1 seconds remaining in overtime of a tied game Saturday.

But there would be no last-second shot for the Pelicans, as coach Alvin Gentry inexplicably called a timeout his team didn't have. Instead, Devin Booker made the go-ahead technical foul shot, and the Suns went on to post a 138-136 victory.

Gentry's miscue reminded observers of the 1993 NCAA Tournament title game when Michigan's Chris Webber called for a timeout his team didn't have while trailing by two with 11 seconds left, helping to cement North Carolina's 77-71 victory.

Of course, Booker wasn't alive then, but he was mighty stunned over the developments that gave his team a victory.

"That's the beauty of the sport. You never know what can happen," Booker told reporters afterward. "We came into the locker room -- we were looking around, and we still don't know what happened, but we'll take the win, for sure."

The triumph gives Phoenix a 6-4 mark since it ended a franchise-worst, 17-game losing streak.

The Suns (17-54) now turn their attention to the Bulls (19-52), who have lost five straight games and seven of eight after being trounced 129-102 by the host Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Chicago trailed by 16 points at halftime and then allowed 73 second-half points while falling to 0-2 on a three-game road trip.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen wasn't happy with the performance.

"Their speed and athleticism, physicality and toughness overpowered us," Boylen told reporters afterward. "We lost the boards and we lost the turnover game, which you can't do on the road. Our starters need to play better. They know it, and they have to play better."

Shooting guard Zach LaVine led the way for Chicago with 18 points against the Kings.

Power forward Lauri Markkanen has scored in double digits in 29 straight games but has slowed down of late. He had just 11 points against the Kings, his third straight outing of 11 or fewer.

Markkanen has failed to reach the 20-point mark in eight consecutive contests after tallying at least 20 in each of the previous 11 games.

Chicago's other three starters didn't reach double figures against the Kings.

"They were flat," Boylen said. "It looked like it got too hard for us, and we need to be more resilient on the road, which we weren't. We were a step slow all night."

Meanwhile, Booker has a streak of 12 straight 20-point outings after recording 40 points and 13 assists against the Pelicans.

It was Booker's second 40-point performance during the stretch -- he had 41 against the New York Knicks on March 6 -- and he is averaging 28.8 points during the span.

Small forward Kelly Oubre Jr. is taking advantage of his opportunity since being acquired from the Washington Wizards. He scored a career-best 32 points against New Orleans.

Oubre is averaging 23.5 points over the past four games to raise his average to 16.9 in 40 games since joining the Suns.

The host Bulls defeated Phoenix 124-116 on Nov. 21. LaVine scored 29 points for Chicago, and Booker had 23 for the Suns.

--Field Level Media