Wednesday night against the Bulls was arguably the most important game of the season for the Bucks, because it would decide the winner of the “Border Battle” and clear up the three-team Central division battle between the Pacers, Bulls and Milwaukee. Well, the Bucks did have a chance to prove themselves as one of the top teams in the division but it apparently wasn’t meant to be as they were defeated by Chicago handily, 104-88.
Before I talk about the game itself, I do have to mention that the Bucks were playing at home tonight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but it really did feel like a road game judging from the overall volume of Bulls fans vs. Bucks fans. Now I know that the arena is definitely within driving distance for Chicago fans but this is supposed to be a “rivalry” game against a team that they’re currently in a battle with when it comes to seeding in the playoffs. I’ve previously talked about how ghostly quiet that the arena has been but last night was definitely a real shame that should be embarrassing to the fans that spent money on the tickets but still to let the opposing fans to just take over the arena when a game like this is so important.
This game started off with a epic battle (I use epic sarcastically) between Samuel Dalembert and the entire Bulls starting five. It was good seeing Dalembert actually produce the way he did in that quarter but just the rest of the Bucks team started out the game pretty sluggish which allowed Samuel to the lead the team in first quarter with seven points and five rebounds.
Milwaukee started the second quarter only down by four but the Bulls quickly went on a run that put them up by twelve points five minutes into the period thanks to the help of their bench core of Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson. Both Gibson and Butler are very good players, and you can respect their skill but Nate Robinson just irritates me every time he touches the ball so you can be bet my basketball mind was offended when he led the Bulls with 24 points on 9-11 shooting. I don’t know if it’s attitude or the fact that he reminds me of a little annoying poodle with the way he just growls at players like he’s done recently with Jennings and the Knicks’ Steve Novak.
Going back to the game, the Bulls lead by 18 at half thanks to second chance points and the duo of Jennings and Ellis shooting a combined 4-14 from the field. Both Ellis and Jennings just looked a bit tired through out the first half and the rest of the game which is excusable when you look at the fact that they were coming off of a back-to-back against Detroit. With that said, it’s nearly impossible for the Bucks to pull out a victory against a team like the Bulls when both Jennings or Ellis are struggling offensively. You may like it or not, but this offense revolves around these two guards and when they’re suffering then the whole team crumbles with them.
Milwaukee went on a little run in the third which cut Chicago’s lead to seven points, but Chicago eventually pulled away at the start of the fourth and left the deer in the dust. The Bucks’ starting core (minus Larry Sanders, who was out with an illness) simply just got tired and ran out of gas while the bench didn’t produce at the level that we’re used to seeing this year.
Jennings took offense to an offensive foul call on him in the game’s final minutes and was ejected.
This game will probably go down as one of those random games where a team just doesn’t click but yet it prevents the Bucks from moving up in the Central Division and, more importantly, the Eastern Conference playoff race.