PHOENIX -- Going for a four-game sweep at home, the Suns' defense abandoned them for key stretches Wednesday as the Chicago Bulls bookended a 103-97 victory with big quarters in the first and fourth.
The Suns gave up all kinds of open looks to start the game, fell behind by 17 and after they took brief leads watched the Bulls hit big shots down the stretch.
Jimmy Butler scored 14 of his season-high 32 points in the fourth to help snap the Suns' three-game win streak in front of a sizable and boisterous Bulls contingent of fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Bulls made seven of their first nine field goals and shot 72 percent in a 31-point first quarter. They also scored 31 in the fourth to hold off the Suns.
"We tell our guys that a lot of time games, not that they are actually won or lost at the beginning of the game, but when you give a team confidence," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "They are a good team; they don't need any extra confidence. But when they come in and make the first (10) of 13 baskets that they take, now you're uphill."
After the Suns shot 36 percent in the opening period and didn't fare much better to start the second, that uphill battle was a 17-point deficit.
"It definitely hurt us," Suns defensive stalwart P.J. Tucker said. "They got it going early."
Tucker helped lead the turnaround. With T.J. Warren out with an illness, Tucker scored 20 points to go along with the 44 combined by the backcourt of Brandon Knight (23) and Eric Bledsoe (21) -- though the pair shot 36 percent combined.
The Suns held the Bulls to 36 percent shooting in the second quarter and trailed by six at halftime.
The Suns pulled within one, 58-57, midway through the third before the Bulls scored six straight. The Suns finally pulled even, 70-70, on 3s from Booker and Teletovic and a Price steal and layup with 51 seconds left in the third.
The Suns took a couple one-point leads in the final period, the last 88-87 with 4:47 to play, but couldn't hold off Butler and Kirk Hinrich, who hit big shots in the second half playing in place of the injured Derrick Rose (ankle).
"There were a few breakdowns but at the end of the day they made tough shots," Tucker said. "They got it going early, so that basket was big late in the game.
"They executed in the end; in the end, we were in the game but they made shot and executed. We didn't."
Hinrich finished with 14 points and Aaron Brooks added 12, as the Bulls didn't look to miss Rose.
"I think it was too easy," Hornacek said. "They guys were able to line up their shots and I'm sure when we look at the tape, the aggression on the ball (wasn't there). In that second quarter, we got afte rit a little bit more, put a little more pressure on the passers, where the guys couldn't easily throw it to one another.
"So it's hard to maintain effort for 48 minutes. But if you can get to that point, the Bulls do a pretty good job of having that intensity; so that's a level we have to get to."
The Suns scored 46 points in the paint to the Bulls' 38 and outscored Chicago by 16 in fast-break points couldn't get the win before they head out on a road trip to Denver, New Orleans and San Antonio.
"They are just a great team and beat us on the defensive end," said Bledsoe, who shot 7-of-22 from the field and had seven assists.
"We definitely have to move on to the next game. ... You just got to move on to the next game. There's nothing we can do about this game right here."