Nikola Mirotic shoots over Milwaukee Bucks defender

Bulls beat Bucks for fifth straight victory, 115-109

Bulls improve to 8-20 on the regular season

The miracle Bulls continued to buck their losing trend Friday with a frenzied 115-109 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bulls were led by Bobby Portis with a career high 27 points. Nikola Mirotic after a slow start with six points in the first half finished with 22 and the crucial three-point play to effectively clinch the game down the stretch, Mirotic making the shot with a scoop almost parallel to the floor. Mirotic made three of the Bulls eight three pointers.

Robin Lopez had 18 points, Kris Dunn had 17 points and seven assists and David Nwaba had 13 points as the principal second half defender against Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 29.

It was the Bulls fifth consecutive win. They are 8-20. The Bucks fell to 15-12.

The Bulls were without Lauri Markkanen for the third consecutive game with back spasms and remained back in Chicago. Coach Fred Hoiberg said it was more precautionary and that the team didn’t want him to sit on the bus for the 90-minute commute without playing. Hoiberg said they do not believe Markkanen’s condition will linger and Hoiberg said when he is ready to play he will return to start. The Bulls got knocked on their buck to start the game, Milwaukee off to a rush of a 16-6 start pushing the ball in transition. Mirotic started slowly and was in foul trouble, so Portis came in and effectively took the scoring baton in a  20-6 Bulls run that helped the Bulls to a 33-30 lead after one quarter. Nwaba with his trademark ferocious play was in the middle of it again with a pair of steals. Milwaukee with Antetokounmpo playing his rubber man game to the basket bucked back ahead 51-45 midway through the second quarter with Bulls miscues leading to Bucks fast breaks, 11 points from those in the first half. But the Bulls were not done. Dunn responded with a pair of physical driving baskets and Mirotic with a offensive rebound score as the Bulls moved back ahead 59-58 at halftime. Portis had 14 and Nwaba 11, though the Bulls continued to be troubled at the free throws line missing eight of their 18 attempts in the first half.

The Bulls went with Nwaba over Denzel Valentine to start the second half with Nwaba concentrating defensively on the much taller Antetokounmpo. Dunn got the Bulls going with a pair of scores, but drew his fourth foul four minutes in and had to sit with the Bulls leading 74-67. The Bulls were carried offensively afterward by Rolo with the roll, LOpesz rolling for scores as the Bulls led 80-77 with 2:31 left in the third. The Bulls closed the quarter weakly with a pair of unforced turnovers and a tie at 82 entering the fourth quarter. Portis was flying around the court, scoring seven of the Bulls first 10 fourth quarter points as the Bulls went ahead 92-89. He added another pair of scores to match the Bucks as the teams traded leads and baskets and were tied at 104 with three minutes left. A Mirotic three gave the Bulls a 109-104 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Dunn then fouled out with 1:24 left with fouling Khris Middleton on a three. The Bucks got within two on the free throws before Mirotic’s unlikely three-point play.

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