The post-Luol Deng era got off to an impressive start Tuesday night in Chicago, as the Bulls knocked off the Phoenix Suns, 92-87, at the United Center. Earlier in the day the Bulls announced they had traded forward Luol Deng in exchange for Andrew Bynum’s contract and three draft picks. The move will save the franchise more than $20 million – they waived Bynum’s contract and are now under the luxury tax threshold – but was expected to hurt the current team in the short-term. And while the Bulls undoubtedly are worse off without the nine-year veteran Deng, it didn’t show on this night. Kirk Hinrich (nine points, three assists, two blocks) hit a clutch 3-pointer with two minutes to play and the Bulls forced the Suns into back-to-back turnovers in the final minute to hang on in the win. The Suns, who came into tonight averaging 103 points, shot just 40 percent in the loss, while Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson powered a Carlos Boozer-less frontcourt in the victory. Taj Gibson (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Jimmy Butler (13 points, five rebounds, four steals) got the Bulls going in the first quarter, scoring a combined 17 of the Bulls’ 27 points on 7-for-12 shooting in the quarter. Goran Dragic (21 points, two assists) paced the Suns with seven points in the quarter while Gerald Green, starting in place of Eric Bledsoe, tallied five points. Chicago played a crisp quarter throughout, committing just one turnover and one personal foul, while the Suns matched the effort with their usual up-tempo pace. Even without their leading scorer in Deng, the Bulls kept pace with the Suns on offense in the rest of the first half. Thibodeau’s group shot better than 47 percent from the field, behind 11 first-half points from Noah (14 points, 16 rebounds, six assists) and 10 from Butler. DJ Augustin (13 points, nine assists) keyed the offense in the second quarter, scoring eight points and handing out four assists in the stanza.
Bulls knock off Suns in first game without Deng
CSN Chicago | Jan 8