It won’t atone for the 1993 NBA Finals, but the Suns’ 115-111 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls Monday at America West Arena gave Phoenix a warm feeling that should last at least eight days.
The Suns still have defensive deficiencies to solve and their current three-game winning streak came against three sub .500 teams — the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and the Bulls — who will likely be in the draft lottery again this year. But Phoenix did what it had to do over that stretch and now heads to the All-Star break with a 29-21 record, good enough to pull into a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference standings with Utah and Minnesota.
"A great win for us, certainly after struggling again," Suns coach Frank Johnson said. "We got a win and we’re happy."
The Suns’ pair of All-Stars was the biggest reason. Shawn Marion dumped in a season-high 36 points, including a huge 3-pointer with 19.4 seconds left in regulation that gave Phoenix its first lead since the start of the second half.
Guard Stephon Marbury also had 36 points, including six in overtime. One of those baskets came on a high floater over the defense that bounced three times before dropping.
"That’s his new trademark shot," forward Bo Outlaw said.
Still, Chicago made Monday’s win as uncomfortable as possible. The Bulls, who had started their current five-game road trip with three losses, blitzed the Suns for 34 first-quarter points while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.
Chicago forward Tyson Chandler, in his ongoing battle with Amare Stoudemire, opened the game with a 3-point play — Stoudemire drew the foul — and the rest of the night, the Suns played catch-up.
In his new role as an offensive option Bo Outlaw scored a seasonhigh 16 points — the second time in the last three games he had scored a season-high.
But every time Phoenix rallied, Chicago made some big shots, including back-to-back 3-pointers as the shot clock expired in the fourth quarter, to maintain the lead.
"They weren’t missing anything," Marion said.
Neither was Marion, who drained three of four shots from beyond the arc and had 23 of his points in the second half. After Marion staked Phoenix to a 105-104 lead, Chicago’s Jalen Rose had a chance to give the Bulls the lead with 9.1 seconds left, but he missed the first of two free throws to send the game into overtime.
Rose had made 33 straight before the miss.
In overtime Marbury took over, seemingly driving to the basket at will against every defender.
Chicago had two chances to tie or take the lead, but Rose and Jay Williams each missed shots and Donyell Marshall, who grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds, committed an offensive foul that allowed the Suns to take control.
Phoenix won despite getting just eight points from its bench.