Mirotic, Butler, Bulls too strong for Bucks

Send a link to a friend  Share

[March 27, 2017]  MILWAUKEE -- The Chicago Bulls' up-and-down season flipped again.

Fresh off an embarrassing 10-point home loss to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, the Bulls shot the lights out and used a big second half to cruise to a 109-94 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center.

Nikola Mirotic led the way, knocking down 11 of 14 shots including 6 of 9 3-point tries to finish with a game-high 28 points.

He paced a Chicago offense that shot 54.1 percent from the floor, made 10 of 21 3-pointers and most importantly for head coach Fred Hoiberg, assisted on 33 of 46 made baskets.

"I thought we were really committed to moving the ball," Hoiberg said. "You have to be against (the Bucks) because they do such a good job of loading up on the strong side so you have to move it to your second or even the third option in order to get an open look.

"Our guys really bought into that."

Jimmy Butler contributed 14 of those assists, his third consecutive game with 10 or more (12.3/game).

"My mantra is always to pass the ball to the open guy whether it's late game, early game," said Butler, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. "I think that's my job and whenever I can score, definitely look to score. It's different from game to game, but it's all the same to me whether you're double teamed or not."

Rajon Rondo had a big afternoon, too. The veteran point guard narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in 34 minutes of work.

"That's what he does," Hoiberg said. "He brings leadership. You always see him talking to the guys out there. When things are kept simple, we're really effective."

The victory kept the Bulls' playoff hopes alive. Chicago moved to within a game of eighth-place Miami, which faces Boston later Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee (37-36) with 22 points. Greg Monroe scored 16 and Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton each added 14 for the Bucks, who shot 44 percent.

"We didn't play well," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "It happens. That's sports. You learn from your mistakes and that's what we've done all season. Those guys in the locker room know what they have to do the next time they take the floor."

After Antetokounmpo got Milwaukee started with 10 first-quarter points, the Bucks' bench opened the second quarter with a 12-2 run to make it a 43-31 game when Mirza Teletovic drained a 3-pointer with nine minutes left in the half.

[to top of second column]

 Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) tries to steal the ball from Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

That seemed to wake up the Bulls, who cut the deficit to six on a 14-foot jumper from Lopez. Chicago used a 12-3 run of its own and went into the break up, 56-55, on a Lopez layup with 24.9 seconds left.

A Teletovic 3-pointer with 3:25 left in the third gave the Bucks a moment of hope, but Rando hit from the right corner to put the Bulls back up by nine.

Chicago went 14 of 21 from the floor in the quarter and opened the fourth up 12 and a fast break from Butler made it 98-81 with 8:55 to play.

"They outplayed us tonight, it's as simple as that" Monroe said. "In this league, if you get outplayed most of the time, you'll lose the game."

Milwaukee had a chance to move into sole possession of fifth place in the East but instead, remained tied with Atlanta, which lost earlier Sunday to Brooklyn.

The Hawks own a tiebreaker over Milwaukee, leaving the Bucks in the sixth playoff position.

NOTES: The Bucks had won six in a row at the Bradley Center ... Chicago G Jimmy Butler set a career high with 14 assists. He is averaging 12.3 over his last three games. ... Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his fourth consecutive game of 20 or more points, finishing with a team-high 22. He's now reached the 20-point threshold in 50 games this season, the most by a Bucks player since Michael Redd had 63 in 2005-06. ... The Bulls are 10-1 this season when shooting better than 50 percent from the field. ... Chicago dropped the first three meetings with the Bucks this season but avoided being swept by the Bucks. Milwaukee last swept Chicago in 2000-01.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Back to top