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Suns have lost six of last eight games

1/6/2004

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns almost stole one from the
Chicago Bulls.

Kirk Hinrich scored 19 points, Jerome Williams added 13 points
and 15 rebounds and Rick Brunson hit two clutch free throws in the
final seconds as Chicago defeated short-handed Phoenix 87-82 Monday
night, only hours after the Suns completed a blockbuster
eight-player trade.

Phoenix opened the game looking flat, playing just a few hours
after the trade that sent Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway and
Cezary Trybanski to New York for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley,
Charlie Ward and Maciej Lampe, and the rights to Milos Vujanic and
two first-round picks to Phoenix was finalized.

"I think we were all a little anxious tonight to start off the
game," Casey Jacobsen said. "We all wanted to step up our play
and I think we got a little bit too tight -- all of us -- and it
showed. But once we relaxed, that was one of the best games I've
seen us play on the road as far as playing together, having energy,
playing defense."

The Suns dressed only eight players for the game. Scott Williams
went on the injured list before the game to make room for the trade
and McDyess, Eisley, Ward and Lampe aren't scheduled to join the
team until Friday when the Suns host Sacramento.

It looked like the Bulls were going to pull away early in the
fourth quarter when they went on a 7-0 run to take a 71-60 lead
with 8:25 left on a pair of free throws by Eddie Robinson, but the
Suns and Leandro Barbosa fought back.

"They could have folded early, but they didn't," Bulls forward
Kendall Gill. "Normally when a trade like that happens a team
plays well. They have a couple of guys that have opportunities to
play and they don't have anything to lose."

The Suns went on a 13-4 run to cut it to 75-73 on a pair of free
throws by Jacobsen with 3:57 left. Barbosa, who finished with a
career-high 27 points in a career-high 39 minutes, scored seven
during the run. He cut the Bulls' lead to 83-82 on a driving layup
off a nice pass from Jake Voskuhl with 19 seconds left.

"It's a difficult situation, but we have to keep going,"
Barbosa said. "Stephon is a very good friend of mine. I cried
today. I love him, but we have to keep it going."

Brunson then hit two free throws to make it 85-82. Phoenix's
Shawn Marion missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left that could
have tied it.

"With the way the wins are coming, we will take them anyway we
can," Gill said. "We are not only struggling as a team, but we
are struggling individually, but we have to keep playing and
regroup, get our games together."

Robinson finished with 12 points for Chicago, scoring 10 in the
fourth quarter. Eddy Curry finished with 11.

Joe Johnson had 18 points and eight rebounds for Phoenix.

Marion had 13 points for Phoenix, which has lost six of its last
eight games.

Game Notes: Williams went on the injured list before the game with back
spasms. ... Scott Skiles made his first coaching appearance against
the Suns. He coached Phoenix from 1999-2002.