Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls – January 5

Jan 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) looks to pass the ball against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34)during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) looks to pass the ball against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34)during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

In the first re-match since last season’s contentious first round, the Milwaukee Bucks can’t find enough to shut down Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic,Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol

It was strange that we had to wait this long for it, but as we find ourselves in the first week of 2016, already 36 games into the Milwaukee Bucks season, the Bucks finally got to square off with the Chicago Bulls in their first meaningful meeting since last year’s first round playoff series.

The Bucks headed to Chicago for the second night of a back-to-back having been dismantled by the San Antonio Spurs in the Bradley Center on Monday night. They would have been hoping that the prospect of facing their biggest rivals would bring some extra energy to their performance, and that’s exactly what transpired.

It may not have been a game for the purists, as there was a distinct lack of defense from both teams, but the Bucks and Bulls traded baskets and it was certainly entertaining to watch.

More from Bucks News

On a night that was impressive for the Bucks on the offensive end, it certainly didn’t start out that way. Milwaukee stuttered out of the gate as the Bulls got out to an early 10-0 lead. Taj Gibson had seven of those early points as he got a lot of joy inside, and the clock read 8:20 before a Greg Monroe let the Bucks in on the act.

From there, the Bucks tried to get to work in transition, an area where they’ve had a lot of success in recent times. A Michael Carter-Williams’ steal allowed an easy Jabari Parker dunk, before the Bucks then turned to their other great offensive tool from the last couple of weeks.

Khris Middleton has been lighting it up from across the floor, and that wasn’t about to change in this one. Middleton had three first quarter three-pointers, making it clear to the Bulls that he should not be left alone.

Perhaps his most impressive play of them all came with a display of just how diverse his skillset has now become. A beautiful quick post and spinning right-handed fadeaway left jaws on the floor across the United Center.

The problem for the Bucks was finding a way to stop the Bulls from scoring. They had no solution either. If a field goal wan’t dropping, Chicago found themselves on the free throw line.

As the second quarter kicked in, Greg Monroe decided to make an effort to single-handedly cut in to the Bulls lead. Moose rolled off eight straight points for Milwaukee, capped off with an impressive spin, pump, and finish against Bulls rookie Bobby Portis.

The Bucks continued to hang tight throughout the remainder of the quarter helped in large part due to and-ones from Middleton and Antetokounmpo. Bucks trailed 67-61 at the half.

As the third quarter got underway Jimmy Butler looked set to assert himself, after hitting an early, no-nonsense knockdown three, but the Bucks were running like a well-oiled machine, at least on the offensive end.

Michael Carter-Williams was the orchestrator on what was an outstanding night for him, picking up 20 points on 9-14 from the field, and dishing 12 assists to go with them while only turning it over twice.

The two sides continued to trade buckets until a Middleton clutch two late in the shot clock right over Butler’s head gave the Bucks a jolt in momentum.

A big John Henson slam followed, and a Giannis one wasn’t too far after it. All of a sudden, the lead was only one.

As the fourth period opened up, Milwaukee veered away from playing Giannis and Monroe in the second unit which had worked so well earlier in the game, instead putting Jabari Parker out with that group. The well didn’t dry up, but even with scoring becoming marginally more difficult, the Bucks found themselves in trouble as they couldn’t come up with a stop down the other end.

A Michael Carter-Williams triple briefly gave hope, that was further built upon with another Middleton three a couple of minutes later. Just as Middleton brought the game back to eight, Pau Gasol hit a dagger three of his own to virtually finish the game.

The Bulls cruised to victory from there. The Bucks just need some defense.

Final. 117. 24. 106. 89

Next up for the Bucks is the homecoming of Zaza Pachulia, as they host the Dallas Mavericks in Milwaukee on Friday.