Bulls, Dunn do in Bucks
MILWAUKEE — Returning to practice after missing all but one shot in a loss to the Boston Celtics last Friday night, Kris Dunn held his head high and was confident he would bounce right back when the Chicago Bulls returned to action Tuesday night.
Dunn held up his end of the bargain, scoring 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting while dishing out 12 assists, and Nikola Mirotic added 24 points off the bench as the Bulls beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-106 at the Bradley Center
“Bad games happen to everybody,” Dunn said. “I’m not going to keep my head down. This team believes in me, the coaching staff believes in me, so I’ll just keep playing my game and being aggressive.”
He was more than aggressive against Milwaukee, especially down the stretch. Dunn scored six points on 3-of-6 shooting in the final quarter as the Bulls turned an 83-83 tie through three into an 11-point lead.
More impressive was the fact that Dunn held his own despite facing Milwaukee’s jack-of-all trades forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has nearly 5 inches on Dunn but couldn’t shut down the 6-foot-4 point guard.
“I just felt like I had a matchup that I liked,” Dunn said. “He’s long and athletic, but I felt like I could get at his feet, so that’s what I tried to do.”
Dunn punctuated his night in the closing minute. Milwaukee had cut the deficit to five with a minute to play, but after a Bucks timeout, Dunn went to his left and drove past Antetokounmpo for a layup before Chicago sealed the victory from the free-throw line.
“He did a good job and he didn’t settle,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of Dunn. “He did a good job of attacking and finishing tonight. He’d had a couple of games when he struggled at the rim — he got there, he just didn’t finish — but he did a good job tonight concentrating, slowing down, getting his balance right, and he finished strong at the rim. That was a big difference for us. Kris was terrific all night.”
Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 28 points for the Bucks. However, he was a non-factor in the final quarter as Chicago — specifically guard David Nwaba — held him to just four points and one field goal, a 3-pointer with 1:45 to play.
“We were just sloppy,” Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton said. “We have to be better with the ball, especially against a team like that.”
Antetokounmpo made 11 of 17 shots and Milwaukee shot 47 percent overall despite a 5-for-13 showing from Middleton. The Bucks committed a season-high 20 turnovers, which the Bulls turned into 24 points.
“We were sloppy,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “Just a shoot-around and no practice for the last couple days, but that’s no excuse. Chicago came out with a lot of energy and effort for 48 minutes. We just couldn’t match it.”
Antetokounmpo scored 18 on 7-of-10 shooting in the opening half, but Milwaukee went 3-for-13 from beyond the arc and gave up 14 points on 10 turnovers.
Eric Bledsoe began the third quarter with a short leash after picking up four fouls in the first half. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 12 of his 22 points in the third as the Bucks knocked down 10 of 18 shots, including four from distance, to knot things up at 83 heading into the fourth.
The Bucks (17-15) lost to Chicago (11-22) for the second time in an 11-day stretch.
“This is a great lesson to be learned to not look at a team’s record,” Kidd said. “They were 7-2 in their last nine, and their losses were to Boston and Cleveland. They’re one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
“This is something we’ll watch tomorrow, and hopefully get better at and ready for Minnesota (on Thursday).”
NOTES: Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to the lineup Monday after sitting out the previous game because of right knee soreness. Coach Jason Kidd said before the game that Antetokounmpo, the league leader at 38 minutes per game entering play Tuesday, had no limit on his minutes Tuesday. Antetokounmpo wound up at 37 minutes against Chicago. ... Bulls G Zach LaVine worked out with Windy City of the G League on Tuesday. He will practice with the Bulls later this week and will begin six consecutive days of full-contact work Saturday as he continues to work his way back from ACL surgery. “He’s got a lot of hurdles to clear yet,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s going to be good to get him back with consecutive days of full-contact practice. We’ll see how he responds.” ... Chicago scored 54 of its 106 points in the paint.