The Suns are likely to continue using a new-look lineup Friday night when they try to keep Chicago winless on its seven-game road swing.
Phoenix had lost 11 of 12 on the road after closing an 0-4 trip Monday, but opened a three-game homestand Wednesday with a 118-94 rout of league-worst New Jersey.
“We needed a win,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “We needed it in the worst way.”
It was the second consecutive game Gentry employed a new starting five, using rookie Robin Lopez(notes) at center in place of Channing Frye(notes) and sticking former Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa(notes) in Jason Richardson’s(notes) spot.
The results have been positive, at least offensively. The Suns (25-18) scored 118 points in both games while making 51.1 percent from the field, compared to averages of 104.8 points and 44.3 percent in the previous five.
The Suns have been held below 100 points only once at home, going 16-4, and they’re facing a Bulls team which is 1-14 when giving up at least 100.
That may be tough to do for Kirk Hinrich(notes) or John Salmons(notes). Hinrich is fending off a stomach flu which caused him to miss Monday’s loss at Golden State, and he had as many field goals as turnovers Wednesday as he shot 3 of 14 in a 104-97 loss to the Clippers. The flu bug then caught Salmons, who sat out Wednesday after scoring 25 against the Warriors.
The Bulls (18-22) have surrendered an average of 109.0 points through two games on this trip, and the next five opponents all have winning records. They won’t play at home again until facing the Clippers on Feb. 2.
Maybe that’s what Gentry sought when he made the lineup changes.
Richardson had a team-high 26 points Wednesday after scoring a combined 22 in the previous three games.
“It’s tough,” Richardson said. “My whole career I’ve been a starter, besides probably the first four or five games of my rookie season. It’s just a different adjustment. You’ve got to get yourself going.”
Adjusting to a new role has been easy on Lopez, who has shot 8 of 10 in each of his two starts while totaling 39 points and 14 rebounds. The switch has failed to get Barbosa going as he’s missed 11 of 14 3-point attempts.
Frye has seen his minutes drastically cut. Second in the league with 98 3-pointers, Frye has made only three in the last six games while shooting 7 of 34 from the field (20.6 percent) and averaging 4.2 points.
This is the first meeting since these teams played in Phoenix on Jan. 31, when the Bulls completed their first season sweep of the Suns since 1996-97. Rose averaged 22.0 points while committing three turnovers to outplay Steve Nash(notes), who had 12.5 points and 5.0 turnovers per game.