Turnovers doom Bulls late, as Chris Paul shows why he’s still ‘big bro’
Ten fourth-quarter turnovers helped Paul and the visiting Suns erase a deficit and end the Bulls’ three-game winning streak Friday.
There’s really no way for Bulls guard Coby White to put into words what future Hall of Famer Chris Paul has meant to him.
White has tried numerous times since being drafted in 2019, but he usually falls short.
White and Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. played for Paul’s AAU team throughout their high school years, but Paul was more than just a famous sponsor for White and his family. When White’s father, Donald, died of liver cancer in 2017, Paul became like a family member for White and his brother, Will.
So when White is asked about his relationship with Paul off the court, it’s easy to hear the emotion in his voice.
‘‘That’s still big bro,’’ White said Friday. ‘‘That’s family.’’
Even ‘‘family’’ has limits between the lines, however.
‘‘I mean, you step on the court, all that dwindles away,’’ White said. ‘‘All that dwindles away, for sure. We’ve both got one goal when we go out there, and that’s to help our team win the game, no matter what.’’
Unfortunately for White, Paul and the Suns got the better of him and the Bulls 106-97 at the United Center.
Paul and the Suns overcame a seven-point deficit after three quarters and ran down the Bulls in the fourth to put an end to their three-game winning streak.
The culprit was turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers. While the Suns turned the ball over only seven times, the Bulls committed 19 turnovers that led to 24 points. That’s how a team blows a 16-point lead and gets outscored 32-16 in the fourth quarter.
‘‘I think the locker room is hurting,’’ Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘We just turned the ball over at an alarming rate. It broke our momentum.
‘‘You know when you’re playing against a good team and certainly a point guard like Chris Paul, who is just not going to turn the ball over, those things just come back and bite you. I think we had done a pretty good job most of the game taking care of the ball, but that fourth quarter, the number of turnovers, I think it was  we had just in the fourth quarter alone.
‘‘I mean, you’re in a tight game against a really good team, it’s really hard to overcome that. And then it went from being a close game to them [pulling away] because we just didn’t make good decisions with the ball.’’
It was an all-too-familiar pattern, especially against the better teams in the league. The Bulls dropped to 1-9 against teams that currently have a winning record.
And it wasn’t just the turnovers themselves. The fact they came against a veteran such as Paul made them even worse.
‘‘It’s not only his play, it’s his intelligence, his smarts, his leadership, the way he can orchestrate and move guys around,’’ Donovan said of Paul, whom he coached last season with the Thunder. ‘‘I got a chance to see it firsthand a whole year, and that’s just who he is and what he does.
‘‘When you’re playing against him, the last thing you can do is turn the ball over because he doesn’t turn it over.’’
As for the White-Paul showdown, Paul finished with 14 points and 15 assists to go along with an impressive plus-28 rating. White finished with 19 points and four assists and was a minus-9.
‘‘Big bro’’ was still ‘‘big bro.’’