Entering last night’s game, the Chicago Bulls had an opportunity to right the ship by hosting a wobbling Phoenix Suns in the United Center. After starting the season 3-5, a win against a solid team would have significantly helped bolster confidence among the fanbase that this team isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.
Unfortunately, it was never going to be an easy job to complete when stacked up against a star-studded Suns team led by Kevin Durant. Although Devin Booker wouldn’t suit up to continue recuperating from a calf injury, last night’s game also marked Bradley Beal’s first official appearance of the season. Beal and Durant would combine for 38 points on the night, but believe it or not, they weren’t the real stars of the show.
That’s because Grayson Allen exploded for a game-high 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks while embracing a roar of boos from the home crowd. Jusuf Nurkic also stepped in a big way, outmatching Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic to drop 20 points, 17 rebounds, and 8 assists to win the war on the low block.
As a result, the Bulls would lose a nailbiter 116-115 game that came down in the final seconds of overtime action. Although DeRozan did put the Bulls in a position to go to overtime in the first place, this ill-advised shot in the waning moments of last night’s game would ultimately doom Chicago to its sixth loss of the season.
Alex Caruso’s incredible performance should have been enough to put the Bulls over the Suns.
Suffering this loss when victory was well within Chicago’s grasp was already difficult enough, but it gets even worse when you consider the fact they wasted yet another masterful performance from a player on the roster. First, it was Zach LaVine’s 51-point outburst in a 16-point loss to the Pistons. Then, it was Nikola Vucevic’s 21-point, 20-rebound showing in a loss to the Mavericks. This time, however, Alex Caruso‘s efforts were wasted by a lackluster outing from his teammates.
Caruso dominated the box score by contributing 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, but even that doesn’t tell the full story. He did his very best to do the impossible and help lock Durant down defensively, while also drilling four of his five attempts from beyond the arc.
Durant was quick to sing Caruso’s praises in his post-game presser. Although KD is practically guaranteed to score 20+ points even on the worst of his nights, the fact Caruso and co. held KD to just seven completed field goals in an overtime contest is genuinely admirable.
Caruso posted a game-high plus/minus of +24 while playing 31 minutes. The fact the Bulls were still outscored and managed to lose the game in the remaining 22 minutes is honestly shameful. On a competent roster, Caruso would be viewed as an extremely valuable asset who approaches the realm of providing All-Star caliber production. On the Bulls, however, he’s becoming nothing more than wasted potential.