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Suns scorch Bulls to end road drought

(Reuters) - Luis Scola and the fast-paced Phoenix Suns heaved a collective sigh of relief after snapping a 12-game road losing streak with a rousing 97-81 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

Argentine forward Scola scored 22 points and bench player Michael Beasley weighed in with 20 as the Suns stunned the Bulls at the United Center to improve to 13-26 for the season.

Phoenix outshot Chicago by 49 percent to 36 from the field and out-rebounded their opponents 46-42 with a welcome return to form after being beaten in their five previous games.

"It was a much, much, much-needed win for us," Suns head coach Alvin Gentry told reporters after his team recorded a 2,000th victory for the franchise in their 3,599th game.

"And it was against a quality team, so that made it even better. For the first time in a long time, I thought we played well for four quarters, where we executed."

Forward Carlos Boozer led the way with 15 points on six-of-14 shooting for the Bulls, who slipped to 20-15 just three days after a 104-96 upset by the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.

"I have to get more out of our team," Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Everyone has to do it, starting with me. It's my job to have them ready. Right now we're not doing as well as we should.

"We have to play with more intensity, more of an edge. We are not doing that. We have to correct it."

With guard Richard Hamilton getting the stroke going early on to score eight points, the Bulls made a promising start to lead 21-20 after a closely contested opening quarter.

However, the Suns took control as the red-hot Beasley drained 14 points on seven-of-eight shooting to help his team forge ahead 49-42 by halftime.

A Sebastian Telfair three-pointer stretched the Phoenix lead to 77-63 after the third quarter and they outscored Chicago 20-18 in the fourth to remain in charge.

"I stayed ready," said Beasley after his most productive game since he scored 21 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 8.

"It felt good to have the ball finally drop my way. I'm going to build on this personally and just get better throughout the season."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Alastair Himmer)

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