The Chicago Bulls took the opening game of their home-and-home series with the Milwaukee Bucks, winning a close one 93-86. The Bulls continued a recent and frightening trend of Bucks' opponents putting up big nights at the free throw line, outscoring Milwaukee 25-7 at the stripe. The Bulls missed one free throw all night. Chicago also hammered the Bucks on the offensive boards, finishing with a stunning 40.0 offensive rebound rate.
The serious, enduring story developed late in the fourth-quarter, however, when Brandon Jennings appeared to roll his ankle on a drive against Kirk Hinrich. Jennings immediately fell to the floor and grabbed his ankle, appearing to be in serious discomfort. Jennings was helped off the court by Drew Gooden and Samuel Dalembert, but did not put any weight on the ankle as he left.
Jennings' injury came with 23 seconds left in a 4-point game, but the Bucks managed only one more point on an Ekpe Udoh free throw. The Bulls were quicker to loose balls despite a visibly energized Bucks team showing solid offensive execution early in the game. Milwaukee couldn't keep Carlos Boozer (22 pts, 19 rebs, 8 off. rebs) off the glass as he tipped in countless Chicago misses (and there were plenty, as the Bulls made only 39% of their shots). Scott Skiles' decision to hold a healthy Samuel Dalembert out of the contest (supposedly due to a late arrival) may have made "moral" sense, but it's sure to be questioned when we look back on this one later.
The Bucks were led by Brandon Jennings, who tallied 23 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals before leaving the game. Monta Ellis added 17, but shot 7-17 from the field, including 2-7 in the final quarter. Chicago got 22 from Richard Hamilton, who was a perfect 10-10 from the foul line.
These two teams complete the home-and-home set in Chicago Monday night.