Chicago 99, Milwaukee 90 (F)

MILWAUKEE, Jan. 17 (AP)-- For three quarters, the Milwaukee Bucks goaded Chicago into playing up-tempo and out of control. Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon and Luol Deng stopped the sloppy show.

Nocioni scored 21 points, Gordon added 20 and Deng had 19 to lead the Bulls to their third straight victory, 99-90 over Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

It was Gordon's seventh straight game with at least 20 points and it helped give the Bulls a rare win in Milwaukee, where they lost 15 of the previous 16 times. The Bucks, who got a career-high 22 points from 19-year-old Ersan Ilyasova, committed 26 turnovers - their most since piling up 30 in a loss to New Jersey on Feb. 16, 1998.

"It was not a beautiful game, that's for sure,'' said Bulls coach Scott Skiles, who watched his team commit 22 turnovers. "We kept saying the whole game we were doing a good job of turning them over, but on many occasions we kept giving it right back to them.''

Milwaukee led 73-65 late in the third quarter before Chicago went on a 20-3 run to take its first lead since the first half. Milwaukee missed its first 10 shots of the fourth quarter.

"That was probably the thing that helped us go on the run,'' Gordon said. "That defense translated into offense for us. That was a big part of us getting a big lead on them.''

Milwaukee's only basket during the run was from Ilyasova, who hit a step-back 3-pointer to give the Bucks their last lead at 76-74 with 7:37 left.

Deng and Nocioni hit jumpers as Chicago retook the lead, and after two free throws by Deng, Gordon intercepted Andrew Bogut's pass and flung it 60 feet down court in stride to Kirk Hinrich for an easy layup.

On the next possession, Ruben Patterson was stripped and Gordon hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulls an 85-76 lead with 5:12 left. Chicago extended that lead to 12 and the Bucks never got back within striking distance.

"We turned the ball over a lot, passed up on a lot of open opportunities,'' Hinrich said. "We struggled. It seemed like we could not get into a rhythm all game.''

Bulls center Ben Wallace returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with a sore lower back. He had 10 rebounds and three points.

"It was a little stiff, but it didn't hinder anything,'' Wallace said.

Milwaukee got 17 points from Earl Boykins, 12 from Brian Skinner and 10 from Charlie Bell to go along with 15 points and 11 rebounds from Patterson. But the Bucks shot 4-of-22 from the field in the final quarter, sealing their fate.

"When you shoot 30 percent in the second half and have 26 turnovers, you put a lot more pressure on your defense,'' Bucks coach Terry Stotts said.

Hinrich finished with 16 points and nine assists for Chicago, which allowed an average of 79.6 points in its previous three games.

It was supposed to finally be the dazzling home debut of Boykins, the second-shortest player in the history of the NBA at 5-foot-5, after Saturday's game against the Hornets was postponed because of inclement weather.

He scored 30 points in his previous outing at Charlotte and showed flashes of brilliance against the Bulls, but also committed five turnovers and failed to knock down timely shots, going 4-of-17 from the field in 40 minutes.

"We just didn't finish,'' Boykins said. "We put ourselves in a position to win and in the fourth quarter we just didn't do it. We started the fourth extremely flat and they jumped on us.''

Known as a favorite in Denver, four fans without their shirts spelled out "EARL'' in honor of the Bucks' newest point guard, who was acquired along with Julius Hodge in a trade with the Nuggets last week for Steve Blake.

Milwaukee, without starters Michael Redd, Mo Williams, Bobby Simmons and Charlie Villanueva, did get some promising play early from Ilyasova and fellow rookie David Noel.

"We have to be near-perfect, not perfect, but near-perfect to win games,'' Bell said. "Sometimes when we had those other guys, it was OK to make a couple of mistakes, but now it's like some of those mistakes are killing us.''

Notes: Gordon has scored 20 or more points in 16 of the last 17 games. ... Boykins spent extra time before the game signing autographs for children in the first dozen rows. ... Milwaukee has started nine different lineups this season. ... Chicago is 7-1 against fellow Central Division foes, while Milwaukee is 1-7. ... Bulls F Malik Allen (calf) was inactive.

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