CHICAGO -- The high temperature in Chicago was reported at 6 degrees Tuesday. Even though the Phoenix Suns got to town just a few hours before tipoff, they seemed to get caught in the deep freeze.
The Chicago Bulls nearly held Phoenix to its lowest point total of the season in a 92-87 victory at the United Center. The Suns scored with 4.4 seconds left to surpass their previous season low of 86 points, set against Golden State on Dec. 27.
"Every time they have been challenged they've responded," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of his players. "This is another challenge for them. I thought they did a great job of getting themselves ready today."
"It was tough on our guys flying in here tonight," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We didn't get in until 1 or 1:30. We just need to find ways to dig out games like this. We didn't get any real good stops out there to get our fast break going and that cost us."
Despite playing short-handed, the Bulls opened a nine-point lead on several occasions in the third quarter. Forward Channing Frye opened the fourth quarter with a bank shot to bring Phoenix within 70-65. After consecutive 3-point baskets by rookie forward Tony Snell and a post hook from Noah, the Bulls took their largest lead at 78-65.
The Suns worked their way back into it. A Frye 3-pointer and a driving bank shot by Dragic capped a 10-2 run and brought Phoenix within 84-80 with 3:56 left.
The teams exchanged free throws before a 3-pointer by guard Kirk Hinrich increased Chicago's lead to 88-81 with 2:01 remaining. A baseline jumper from guard Ish Smith brought the Suns within five points, and they had two chances to pull closer, but turned it over both times.
"It was a fun game," said Gibson, who started for the injured Carlos Boozer. "We were slinging the ball left and right, getting a lot of assists and a lot of easy baskets. It was fun, Joakim leading the break at times."
"It doesn't matter with them, whether they have five people, you know that they are going to be playing hard," Frye said. "They are coached well here and you know no matter who is on the court, they will play hard."
Chicago forward Mike Dunleavy, who started in Deng's place, suffered a hyper-extended right elbow in the third quarter when he fell out-of-bounds along the baseline. He retreated to the locker room briefly, but returned to the court at the start of the fourth quarter.
NOTES: When Bulls players arrived for Tuesday's shoot-around, they were still reeling from news that F Luol Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers after 9 1/2 seasons in Chicago. "It was tough. Quite frankly, everybody's down. I don't know how else to put it," F Carlos Boozer said. "We're short a man right now, just lost one of our best players. Not even that, one of our brothers." ... Deng is fourth on Chicago's career scoring list, behind Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Bob Love. ... The Bulls waived the player acquired for Deng, C Andrew Bynum, on Tuesday afternoon. Bynum's $12 million contract would have become fully guaranteed had he not been released. The Bulls saved roughly $20 million in salary and luxury tax through the trade, and they received three draft picks. ... Phoenix's charter flight was delayed Monday, so the team decided to fly Tuesday. The Suns arrived in Chicago about six hours before tipoff. ... Phoenix G Eric Bledsoe missed his third consecutive game due to a sprained right knee. ... Boozer missed his second game with a sore right knee.