Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls – January 13

Jan 12, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) and Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis (5) chase a loose ball in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) and Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis (5) chase a loose ball in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

A feisty rematch between the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks goes the home team’s way as Giannis Antetokounmpo puts together a fantastic night.

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 only a few short days ago that the Milwaukee Bucks were on the road to visit their big-city cousins/hated rivals, the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls came away victorious, 117-106, and appeared unchallenged most of the evening. Tonight would be a chance for the Bucks to do right and try to even up the series.

One tool working in favor for Chicago? The much celebrated return of center Joakim Noah who had been dealing with shoulder issues for a nine game stretch which kept him out of these teams’ first meeting. He’s slowly rebuilt his game from the woes of last year, but it appears as though he isn’t nearly the player he was as an All-NBA center in 2013-14.

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The Bulls had zero issues trying to get things going offensively with solid ball movement and ineffectual Milwaukee D letting plenty of Bulls to drift to wide-open spots on the floor. It wasn’t clear if it was a scheme issue, but it looked like the Bucks got caught ball watching a few times early, and Chicago made them pay accordingly.

Things began to normalize with the insertion of O.J. Mayo and John Henson. Henson in particular did a great job threatening on both ends of the floor and keeping Pau Gasol covered just a bit more on D. Khris Middleton did everything he could off of catch-and-shoot opportunities to bring some life to the team, and a rough start really began to smooth a bit.

For one reason or another, Derrick Rose had to head back to the locker room with just a few minutes left, and the Bucks would hang on to sit behind the Bulls a mere nine points, 20-29.

While looking complacent has been the norm for Giannis these past few weeks, he came out aggressively to start the second moving quickly off-ball on cutters and backing his man to put together a slate of successive scoring possessions. That dominance continued when the pace began to increase freeing up the floor even further for Antetokounmpo to exploit.

Rebounding on the whole was once more an issue with Chicago presenting plenty more size and athleticism than the Bucks are used to dealing with. By the end of the half, Chicago had already racked up 14 OREBs, for example. Some foul trouble for Chicago kept them shaky throughout and allowed Milwaukee to stick around.

The chance to tie things up presented itself late in the second, but some sloppy play by Milwaukee failed to capitalize, and the Bulls continued to hold the advantage, 51-46.

Rebounding differentials would have to become a bit more reasonable (was in favor of CHI by 16) and the defense would have to continue to hold strong to make a game of things.

Roles were swapped coming out of the break, and an aggressive start got the Bucks not only a tie, but actually a lead off of a Jabari Parker jumper at the 9:00 mark. Giannis continued his attacking mindset, and the team on the whole was benefiting from very good spacing.

Unfortunately, some foul trouble ended up hitting Giannis with his fourth foul on the night forcing more cautious play on his part. Of course, the aggressive play that got Milwaukee back into things couldn’t be sustained forever, and some miscues on both ends allowed Chicago to bash their way back into things once the Bucks offense dried up.

The rest of the quarter was an art form in blow and counterblow given by both teams, and a scrappy Bulls offense kept Milwaukee on their back foot on the way to a two point deficit after three, 74-76.

Chicago came out guns a blazin’ to start the final 12 minutes, and not even the return of a still highly effective Giannis could dampen their shooting. Milwaukee fought right back, though, with a balanced effort across the floor once again pushing the pace in any way possible.

One area in which the Bucks could’ve had a big impact? Free throws; and free throws they did not make going 17-28 as a team.

Of course, effective attacks forgotten, the Bucks didn’t do much to try to slow down Chicago when their perimeter shooters were left alone time after time to make them pay. It looked like Giannis would have to step up, and he looked ready to do just that late:

Not only that, but Jabari was doing his all to help out his partner on offense as they combined to finish the game with 45 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four steals. A tied game was in play once more with 4:30 left on the clock, and a brand new game was what Milwaukee needed. The Bucks kept getting out on breaks, and it resulted in a beaut like this alley-oop from Giannis:

A fantastic Middleton three from the corner with 2:25 on the clock gave Milwaukee a four point lead. Another Bucks steal could’ve resulted in another vicious Giannis dunk, but instead turned into a poor distance jumper from MCW.

The final minute came down to Giannis at the free throw line where he sunk only one throw for a four point lead. A huge jumper over Jimmy Butler by Middleton looked to finish things up, and Giannis sunk some final throws to solidify the fantastic win for Milwaukee, 106-101.

89. Final. 101. 24. 106

Milwaukee will try to keep momentum going tomorrow night as they head to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards.