Phoenix outshine Bulls

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The Chicago Bulls have suddenly hit a losing streak, while Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns are looking like a force in the NBA again.

Barkley scored 35 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Suns won 106- 96 in Phoenix to hand the Bulls only their fifth loss of the season - but their second in three nights.

Elliot Perry broke a 96-96 tie with two free throws and a jumper, and Barkley hoisted Perry over his shoulder and carried him to the bench as Chicago called a time-out.

Then Barkley stole the in-bounds pass for his breakaway dunk, and the celebrating began. Michael Jordan scored 12 of his 28 points in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, helping the Bulls come from as many as nine points behind to tie it at 93 and 96.

But, just as in their loss at Denver on Sunday that ended an 18-game winning streak, the Bulls could not sustain the momentum.

Meanwhile, Magic Johnson's comeback after four years out of league action continues to be a success. He scored 16 points, recorded 12 assists and narrowly missed a triple-double with nine rebounds as the LA Lakers beat the Nuggets 99-78 in Denver.

Johnson, in his fourth game since ending his retirement last week, played 33 minutes and showed flashes of his old self, particularly in the final quarter.

Johnson had eight points, five assists and two rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. Cedric Ceballos scored 27 points for Los Angeles.