The Bulls, at least, gave them a scare. The Bulls Thursday came back from a 26-point third quarter deficit and 20 in the fourth quarter to get within eight points with three minutes left. But the Bucks held on for a 108-97 victory over the Bulls.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 21 points, Dwayne Wade with 20 and Taj Gibson with 19.
It was the first of a Bulls/Bucks back to back with the Bucks in the United Center Friday. The Bulls fell to 13-12 while the Bucks are 12-12.
The Bulls got Rajon Rondo back from his sprained ankle and missing a game, but it was the Bucks who got back the running game as they had a 10-0 fast break advantage in the first quarter, Jabari Parker with a pair of run out dunks for a 30-18 Milwaukee lead after one quarter. Parker had 28 points. The Bucks got surprising perimeter shooting from Giannis Antetokounmpo, making his first three jump shots and both threes in the first quarter as he and Parker each had a dozen points. He led the Bucks with 30 points. The Bulls couldn’t get much going as coach Fred Hoiberg again altered the rotation with Bobby Portis off the bench first and Denzel Valentine getting first quarter playing time. The Bucks led 16-8 and closed the quarter with an Antetokounmpo three with a second left after a Bulls shot clock violation and failing to get back again.
And then it got worse as the Bulls committed four consecutive turnovers early in the second quarter and Bucks reserve Mirza Teletovic hit a pair of threes and scored on a three-point play as the Bucks blew out to a 49-26 lead five minutes into the second quarter. The Bucks continues to run and dunk like it was a playground game, ahead 58-31 with three minutes left in the half after a Tony Snell dunk over Gibson. That was the biggest Milwaukee lead. Though Gibson kept the Bulls in the game with his interior scoring, 17 first half points as the Bulls climbed back within 64-45 at halftime after a 14-6 close to the second quarter. But it was a tough first half for the Bulls with 10 turnovers for 16 Bucks points, 14-4 Milwaukee on fast breaks and 55 percent Bucks shooting with eight of 10 three pointers. The Bulls were one of nine on threes.
The third quarter began no better for the Bulls as they fouled their way into the penalty three minutes into the quarter and fell back behind 76-50 after another turnover led to a fast break dunk. But they finally began to show aggression with Butler hammering his way to the basket for a basket and four free throws than enabled the Bulls to get back within 84-64 with two minutes left in the third quarter as Hoiberg stayed with the same rotation with Nikola Mirotic getting his first did not play. After three quarters, the Bulls still trailed 88-66. The wakeup call then came in as with Wade awakening, the Bulls went on a 12-0 run to get within 95-81 with seven minutes left. Antetokounmpo broke the run, but the Bulls were suddenly a different team hustling, and attacking the basket to get within 101-92 on a Doug McDermott three with 4:13 left.