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Carlos DelfinoOut Post-surgery, R Foot
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Larry SandersOut Fractured Orbital Bone
Nate WoltersOut Fractured L Hand
Derrick RoseOut Right Knee
By MATT BECKER
Posted Apr 03 2014 1:48PM
The Chicago Bulls have put themselves in excellent position to host a first-round playoff series.
Finishing third in the Eastern Conference is also a distinct possibility, but to snag that spot they certainly can't afford a letdown against the league's worst team.
The Bulls look to win a fourth in a row and hand the Milwaukee Bucks a franchise record-tying 62nd loss Friday night at the United Center.
Chicago (43-32) took a 2 1/2-game lead over fifth-place Brooklyn with Wednesday's 105-92 win over free-falling Atlanta coupled with the Nets' loss to New York. The Bulls have seven games to play while the Nets have eight.
Chicago is also tied with Atlantic Division-leading Toronto for third place, and neither team closes the season with a daunting schedule. The combined winning percentage of the Bulls' remaining opponents is .396 while the Raptors' is .360.
"We just want to finish the rest of the season strong," point guard D.J. Augustin said.
Augustin had 23 points against the Hawks to lead six Bulls in double figures. Chicago made 12 of 25 3-pointers, and the league's lowest-scoring team (93.2 points per game) is averaging 102.0 during a three-game win streak while shooting 50.4 percent. The Bulls are 40-10 when scoring at least 89.
The Bucks (14-61) have allowed an average of 108.3 points in losing 11 of 12. The only two games they didn't surrender 100 came in losses to Miami, which both times didn't play Dwyane Wade or Ray Allen and jumped out to such big leads early it was able to give LeBron James and Chris Bosh extended rest.
Milwaukee lost to the Heat 88-67 on Saturday and fell 96-77 in Wednesday's rematch. It marked the 11th game this season the Bucks never led.
One more loss and Milwaukee will tie the franchise record for most defeats in a season, set by the 1993-94 team.
"As we wind this thing down with seven games to go, the thing I want is see them compete," coach Larry Drew said. "We're dealing with adverse times. This is really a good time to see what guys are truly made of."
The Bucks have lost 11 straight road games and are 1-21 away from Milwaukee in 2014, but did win 78-74 in Chicago on Dec. 10 in the season's first meeting.
At that time, the Bulls, who won 91-90 in Milwaukee three days later, were struggling to find their way without Derrick Rose. They're now surging to the playoffs thanks to the play of Augustin and Joakim Noah.
Augustin is averaging 17.2 points in his last 17 games, and Chicago is 16-3 when he scores at least 18.
"He's saved our season," coach Tom Thibodeau said of Augustin, who signed with the Bulls on Dec. 13. "D.J. can beat you a lot of different ways."
Noah had 10 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday for his 40th double-double, and the All-Star center has averaged 7.4 assists since the beginning of March. He also leads a defense that ranks second in points allowed at 91.9 per game.
The Bulls have limited the Bucks to an average of 80.0 points in their three meetings and held Milwaukee to a season-low 31.8 percent shooting in an 81-72 win Jan. 10.
Noah sat out the loss to Milwaukee due to a thigh bruise and has totaled 29 points and 28 rebounds in the other two matchups.
Brandon Knight, who leads the Bucks with 17.5 points per game, averaged 11.5 on 26.7 percent shooting in the losses to Chicago. He is averaging 12.8 points on 29.7 percent shooting in Milwaukee's last five defeats.
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Video Highlights and Recap
Notebook: Bulls 102, Bucks 90
Kent McDill, for NBA.com
Posted Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:29 PM - Updated Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:29 PM
THE FACT: With their loss to the Chicago Bulls Friday, the 14-62 Milwaukee Bucks tied their franchise record for most losses in a season, and they have six games remaining.
THE LEAD: With seven players scoring in double figures, the Bulls withstood a fourth-quarter charge by the visiting Bucks (14-62) and recorded a 102-90 victory Friday. Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich each had 17 points for the Bulls (44-32), who remained tied with Toronto for the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 22 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
THE FACTS II: The Bulls led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter and had a 20-point lead going into the fourth, but the Bucks, playing an up-tempo, tight-passing offense, cut the lead down to eight points on a couple of occasions.
QUOTABLE I: "They played harder than us for a stretch. But when we needed to score, we got it done."
-- Bulls forward Taj Gibson
THE STAT: The Bulls won the game despite shooting 37 percent from the field. The Bucks actually shot better, hitting 46 percent of their shots. But the Bulls had 16 more shots than the Bucks thanks to 16 offensive rebounds.
THE STAT II: One of two statistics in which the Bucks rank in the top half of the league is blocked shots, and they had nine against the Bulls Friday, with Jeff Adrien getting three.
THE STAT III: There were 77 free throws attempted in the game, 42 for the Bulls (33 made) and 35 for the Bucks (26 made).
TURNING POINT: After the Bucks cut the difference to eight points at 91-83 with 4:18 remaining, the Bulls got a tip basket by Gibson and a free throw from Hinrich to go ahead by 12 and the Bucks' chase was over.
INJURY UPDATE: Milwaukee's Zaza Pachulia suffered a cut above his right eye that required three stitches, but he went back into the game after getting fixed up.
PLAYOFF FACT: The tiebreaker that will apply between the Bulls and the Toronto Raptors will be conference record, since they split their four games this season. After Friday's game, the Bulls are 32-15 against the Eastern Conference and the Raptors are 28-18. But the Bulls have three games remaining against teams with .500 records or better while the Raptors have none.
HOT: Adrien went 9-for-12 from the field, had nine rebounds and finished with 21 points for the Bucks. Mike Dunleavy was 5-for-8 for the Bulls.
NOT: Joakim Noah was 2-for-14 from the field, but made 7-for-9 free throws to get his 11 points.
QUOTABLE II: "We started to move the basketball. We started looking for the cutters."
-- Milwaukee coach Larry Drew
GOOD MOVE: On three separate occasions, the Bulls failed to score on a breakaway because one of the Bucks came from behind to block the dunk or layup attempt. In none of the cases was a foul called.
BAD MOVE: Brandon Knight scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, but he ran afoul of referee David Jones, and picked up three personal fouls in the second half to foul out with 2:20 left in the game.
ROOKIE WATCH: Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee played 33 minutes and finished with four points, going 1-for-6 from the field. He also fouled out. Tony Snell played eight minutes for the Bulls and made one basket.
NOTABLE: Carlos Boozer had his seventh consecutive double-double against the Bucks, with 14 points and 11 rebounds... the Bulls have won four straight games and are 12 games over .500 for the first time this season... The last time the Bulls were at least 12 games over .500 was at the end of the 2011-12 season... it was the eighth game this season in which the Bulls have had seven players in double figures... the Bucks were just 2-for-8 from 3-point range, while the Bulls were 7-for-22.
UP NEXT: For the Bulls, Saturday @ Washington, Wednesday @ Minnesota, Friday vs. Detroit. For the Bucks, Saturday vs. Toronto, Wednesday vs. Indiana, Friday vs. Cleveland.
MegaBucks Leaders of the Game
- Coach Larry Drew
- On Jeff Adrien's Game: "Yes, he played well. That’s who Jeff is. He is not afraid to mix it up down low. That was one reason we traded for him. He played a terrific game tonight. He is a competitor and getting better and better."
- What cause the poor 1st half play?: "We were rushing things. I just think we were trying to do things too fast. We didn’t move well, set screens, or put bodies on people."
- The 2nd half play difference: “"The biggest thing was we started moving the basketball. They also executed our plays. Zaza did a good job out there. The difference between the first and the 2nds half was we moved the ball."
- On their short rotation: "Yes, we only had 7 guys. I was trying to rotate their minutes and keep everyone fresh. I just tried to keep the minutes as even as I could. They guys played a lot of minutes and we have a back to back. I also know I can’t play Zaza like I did tonight."
- On the Bulls play: "I really like their team depth and they are well balanced. They move the ball, spread their shots and having good chemistry which you can see. They move the ball and keep balanced scoring."
- Guard Brandon Knight
- On their short bench: "Yes, we had played only 7 guys. That’s tough but it’s a part of the NBA. Guys get hurt and you just have to get through those stretches. I thought we played a good 2nd half and came back. This group is together and will continue to fight and support each other."
- On the Bulls team: "They have some really good bigs and perimeter players. They play well together and execute as a team."
- On his foul trouble: "It was a physical game. I tried to work through screens all night. The refs have a tough job and made the calls as they saw them."