Those wild and wacky Bulls did it again Sunday, coming off a depressing home loss against the 76ers to dominate the hot Milwaukee Bucks in a 109-94 victory.
Nikola Mirotic with another sizzling shooting game led the Bulls with 28 points. He shot 11 of 14. Mirotic was 12 of 15 shooting for 28 points in last week’s win over Detroit. Mirotic also had eight rebounds.
The Bulls, winning just their fourth game in the last 13, moved to 35-39. The Bucks had won 11 of 13 coming in. They are 37-36. The Bulls next play the Cavaliers Thursday
The Bulls starters were in command with Jimmy Butler getting 20 points and 14 assists. Rajon Rondo had 18 points, nine rebounds and nine assists and Robin Lopez had 18 points.
Dwyane Wade remained out and Cristiano Felicio also was out with his sore back. The Bulls were hoping to salvage one game from Milwaukee this season after being dominated in each of the three games this season. It was a hot shooting start for both teams shooting about 60 percent after one quarter with the Bucks leading 31-29. Again, the Bulls were not able to counter Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 10 first quarter points mostly dashing to the basket with his long strides. The Bulls got nine points from Mirotic, who continued his hot shooting, along with nine from Butler and eight from Lopez, back seeing the ball inside, though Greg Monroe’s quickness inside gave the Bucks a late advantage in the quarter. The Bulls again went to a quick second quarter timeout with the reserves flummoxed on defense once again and the Bucks opening the quarter with five straight for a 36-29 lead. Three minutes into the quarter the Bulls were on their second timeout and trailing 43-31. The Bulls recovered, but they had to bring several of the starters back into the game along with Rondo directing the offense. Behind 16 first half points from Mirotic, the Bulls closed the half on a 17-6 run to take a 56-55 halftime lead. Lopez added 14 on seven of 10 first half shooting. The Bulls still were weak defensively inside as Milwaukee had 32 points in the paint. But the Bulls continued to shoot almost 60 percent at the half and four of seven on threes. The Bulls bench, however, was being outscored 22-7 while the Bulls starters were shooting 71 percent.
The Bucks came out fast to start the second half behind Khris Middleton. But Mirotic continued his hot shooting paired with Rondo’s penetration. And when Paul Zipser hit a drive and step in jumper, the Bulls led 75-67 with 5:32 left in the third quarter. The Bulls offense continued to click with both Rondo and Butler moving the ball around, frustrating the Bulls defense when it tried to double Butler. Rondo added a three and the Bulls led 87-76 with 2:14 left in the third quarter. Butler got his career high in assists by the end of the third quarter with 13 and the Bulls went into the fourth quarter leading 91-79. The Bulls were shooting 61.9 percent through three quarters led by Mirotic with 25. Instead of going to the bench, as usual, to start the fourth quarter, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg left Butler in and he held things together with a three and then a steal for a dunk and 98-81 Bulls lead with 8:55 left. The Bulls pushed that to 20 on a Joffrey Lauvergne follow score, though the Bucks sent the Bulls into a timeout with 4:33 left with six straight points after Bulls turnovers. But another Mirotic three quieted the home crowd. The Bulls emptied the bench with 1:37 left leading by 17 points.