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Surging Phoenix Suns set to face slipping Bulls

NBA MVP race: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Feb 26, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots against Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) during the first half of an NBA game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns will shoot for their second win in as many nights, and their seventh in eight games, when they host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Phoenix is coming off a 117-110 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday that included a team-high 21 points from Devin Booker. Dario Saric contributed 20 points off the bench and Jae Crowder scored 19 while shooting 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

It was the third win in a row for Phoenix, which sits in second place in the Western Conference standings behind only the Utah Jazz.

“I love our team,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “I love the chemistry. I love the resiliency.”

The Suns have won each of their past three games by single digits. They already have winning streaks of six games, five games and four games this season as they look to put together another four-game streak.

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Chicago is looking to break a four-game losing streak, which is tied for its longest skid of the season. The Bulls are coming off a 116-102 setback against the Golden State Warriors on Monday in San Francisco.

Nikola Vucevic, whom the Bulls acquired from the Orlando Magic before the trade deadline, finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists Monday. Tomas Satoransky and rookie Patrick Williams added 14 points apiece.

The Bulls’ top scorer, Zach LaVine, managed only 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting. He acknowledged after the game that he was dealing with a sprained ankle, and he is considered questionable to play against Phoenix.

“You try to play through injuries, but obviously I’m not trying to be a detriment to the team and obviously not trying to hurt myself going forward, either,” LaVine said. “It just (stinks).”

LaVine, 26, is averaging 27.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 45 games this season.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s condition, “It’s not great, just being honest. He got treatment (Tuesday) morning. He did not do anything (Tuesday) in practice. …

“Zach’s a pretty tough, competitive guy, so I know he’ll do everything he can to get himself ready to play (Wednesday) in terms of doing the rehab and things like that. But we just kind of wanted him to stay off his feet (Tuesday), get his treatment.”

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The teams are set for their second meeting of the regular season. On Feb. 26, Phoenix held on for a 106-97 win at Chicago thanks in large part to 22 points apiece from Booker and Deandre Ayton. Suns point guard Chris Paul added 14 points and 15 assists.

“He’s just such a smart player, man,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers recently said when asked about Paul. “Still obviously skilled, still athletic. If you give Chris Paul a team of guys that want to follow — and that’s the key, Chris can be tough, but he’s with the right group, they want to follow, they want to be led — then there’s no better player in the NBA for that.”

LaVine led the Bulls with 24 points in the loss to Phoenix last month.

–Field Level Media