The Bulls Saturday closed out the year 2016 trying to look up after going down in a 116-96 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bulls dropped to 16-18 with their eighth loss in the last 11 games. The Bucks moved ahead in the standings at 16-16.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 26 points and eight assists. Doug McDermott had 13, Robin Lopez had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Taj Gibson 11 and Nikola Mirotic had 10 points. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo had a spectacular 35 points,, nine rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks. Jabari Parker had 27 points. The Bucks shot 57 percent while outrebounding the Bulls. The Bulls shot 39.8 percent, but did make 10 three pointers, three by McDermott.
Michael Carter-Williams got his first start of the season in place of Rajon Rondo, who opened a game on the bench for the first time as a Bull. Coach Fred Hoiberg had benched Rondo for the second half against Indiana and indicated the Bulls would stay with this lineup. Dwyane Wade was in for the second of the back to back and had eight points. Both teams were in the second of back to backs. Hoiberg said he spoke with Rondo earlier in the day and said Rondo was positive and supportive of his teammates. Jerian Grant backed up Carter-Williams as Rondo didn’t play. It was the third game this month between the Bulls and Bucks with the Bucks winning the two by wide margins. The Bulls dashed out to an impressive start, leading 11-1 after four minutes with Carter-Williams hustling into a pair of steals for fast breaks and fancy, falling down half court pass for a score. The Bucks came back with the length inside and a pair of threes to get within 18-15 with three minutes left in the quarter. The Bulls then got a strong close from Mirotic to lead 27-22 after one quarter. The Bucks then kept Antetokounmpo and Parker in the game while the Bulls went to the bench and the Bucks tied the game at 34 with 8:35 left in the first half. Though it was Greg Monroe scoring for Milwaukee with 10 in the half. The teams then began trading scores, the Bucks featuring Antetokounmpo running out on fast breaks while the Bulls worked inside with Taj Gibson. The teams were tied at 44 with 2:57 left in the half and the Bulls inched out to lead 51-49 at halftime. Antetokounmpo with a three at the halftime buzzer had 15 points and five blocks in the half. Butler had 12 points.
The Bulls starters opened the second half with not enough resolve. They showed less energy and were beaten in transition, and the Bucks took advantage. It sent the Bulls into a timeout with 6:25 left and the Bucks ahead 67-60. Milwaukee got a pair of threes from former Bull Tony Snell after Antetokounmpo finished a lob dunk. The Bucks made 11 of their first 13 third quarter shots and led 77-66. With a pair of McDermott threes and Butler taking the ball inside, the Bulls pulled within 80-76 going into the fourth quarter. A Mirotic three got the Bulls within one, but the Bucks then ran and ran off 10 straight points for a 90-79 lead. Butler at point guard tried to get the Bulls going. But the Bucks kept attacking with Antekokounmpo and Jabari Parker again against a stagnant Bulls game and Milwaukee pulled away throughout the fourth quarter.