The Chicago Bulls put seven players in double figures and played
just well enough to pull out a 102-90 victory. The Bulls (44-32) won
their fourth straight and are now a season-high 12 games above .500.
They'll have a potential first-round playoff preview on Saturday at
Chicago remained tied for third place in the East with Toronto, but
would lose a tiebreaker on the basis of the Raptors being a division
Guards Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 17 points
each, while guard D.J. Augustin and forward Carlos Boozer added 14
points each. Forward Taj Gibson scored 13.
"I loved the balance of the team," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.
"The shot distribution was pretty even and I think that's important
Milwaukee (14-62) didn't go quietly, trimming a 22-point deficit
down to eight in the fourth quarter. Forward Jeff Adrien's jumper
with 7:11 left capped a 10-0 run and brought the Bucks within 85-77.
"Just because they're the worst team in the league doesn't mean
nothing, really," Gibson said. "It's tough because you're playing
against guys that are fighting for their jobs, fighting for their
livelihood. They're going to play hard. We're happy with the win. We
understand not every win is going to be perfect, but a win is a
Milwaukee had two chances to pull closer, but after a missed shot
and a turnover, Hinrich's 3-point basket gave the Bulls some
breathing room at 88-77. The Bucks got within eight points twice
more before Chicago pulled away with a quick four-point run, which
included a Gibson putback, a technical foul on Brandon Knight and
two Bulls free throws.
"I thought we played a good second half and came back," Knight said.
"This group is together and will continue to fight and support each
This result ended a streak of eight consecutive wins by the road
team in this series. The Bucks had won the last three at the United
Milwaukee had just eight healthy players for this game and used
rookie guard D.J. Stephens for 22 seconds. Among the missing were
guard O.J. Mayo (ankle), forward Ekpe Udoh (ankle), center Miroslav
Raduljica (ankle), forward Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) and guard Nate
Wolters (broken hand).
Knight led the Bucks by scoring 22 points before fouling out. Adrian
added a career-high 21 points and guard Ramon Sessions had 13.
"I just tried to keep the minutes as even as I could," Milwaukee
coach Larry Drew said. "These guys played a lot of minutes and we
have a back-to-back."
A mild skirmish in the third quarter resulted in a technical foul on
Milwaukee's Khris Middleton. It started when Knight swiped at the
ball and struck Augustin in a sensitive area. Augustin fell to the
floor, called timeout and was angry when getting to his feet.
Middleton shoved Augustin and got the technical.
[to top of second column]
There were three more technicals in the fourth quarter for arguing
calls, by Gibson, Knight and Chicago center Joakim Noah. Rookie
forward Giannis Antetokounmpo also fouled out for Milwaukee.
The Bucks started the game quietly, falling behind 13-4 as the Bulls
attempted twice as many shots (14 to 7) during the first six minutes
of the first quarter. Chicago's largest lead of the first half was
48-29 with 3:37 left before halftime after a drive and dunk by
rookie Tony Snell.
Milwaukee got within 63-53 midway through the third quarter. A few
minutes later, back-to-back 3-pointers by Augustin and Mike Dunleavy
put the Bulls ahead 80-60.
"You have to give them credit," Thibodeau said of the Bucks. "I
thought they played hard throughout the game. They never went away.
Even when we went up 20, they kept battling back. Defensively, we
could obviously do better."
The Bulls shot just 36.9 percent from the field, compared to 45.6
percent by Milwaukee. Chicago countered with a 16-9 edge in
NOTES: Milwaukee C Larry Sanders was suspended five games without
pay for violating the NBA's drug policy. In a statement released by
the team, Sanders acknowledged that he was penalized for using
marijuana. Sanders is out with a fractured orbital bone and is not
expected back this season, so he may not serve the suspension until
the start of next season. ... Chicago released rookie F Erik Murphy
on Thursday, setting the stage for further roster moves. The Bulls
are looking to add veteran help for the playoffs, but probably won't
sign anyone for a few days. "I thought he did a great job for us and
I thought he had gotten significantly better," coach Tom Thibodeau
said of Murphy. ... Thibodeau on aiming for a particular playoff
seed: "A lot can happen. So there's too many variables to even think
like that, I think."
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.