EditorsNote: fixes “Shabazz”
No Giannis? No problem.
Shabazz Muhammad scored a season-high 21 points as the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench provided the offensive spark in a 118-105 victory over the host Chicago Bulls on Friday night at the United Center.
Milwaukee was playing without forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sprained his right foot in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
In the absence of Antetokounmpo, the league’s fourth-leading scorer, Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker made his first start of the season but only scored six points on 3-of-10 shooting in 30 minutes.
Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe helped pick up the slack, combining for 29 points even though Bledsoe played only three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. The Bucks’ reserves carried the day, though, scoring 70 points on 25-of-40 shooting, including a perfect 6-for-6 effort from Tony Snell, who knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points.
The Bulls roared out of the gate and led Milwaukee by 10 after shooting 61 percent in the opening quarter, but the Bucks rallied from a 12-point deficit to go into halftime tied at 61.
Chicago’s Cameron Payne scored 12 points in the first half but was held to just five over the final two periods. Denzel Valentine led the Bulls with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-7 accuracy from long distance, but Chicago couldn’t maintain its opening-quarter momentum. The Bulls shot 41.4 percent for the game despite going 12-for-26 on 3-point attempts.
Down eight to start the final quarter, Chicago made one last push and cut the deficit to six with an 11-4 run in the closing minutes, but the Bulls couldn’t get over the hump as Milwaukee scored the game’s final seven points.
The victory let Milwaukee close to within a half-game of Miami for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks return to action Sunday afternoon against the Spurs while the Bulls, already eliminated from postseason contention, face the Pistons on Saturday night in Detroit.
—Field Level Media