Recap | Bulls 81, Bucks 72: "We didn't make the plays to win the game"

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucks somehow closed the gap to three in the second half, but ran out of gas and sputtered down the stretch.

Well at least it didn't happen at the buzzer this time, right gang?!?!?

Right??

The Bucks came closer than they usually do in the second half (getting within three), but failed to execute down the stretch as Chicago sucked a little less, resulting in the fourth loss in a row for the Bucks. It was again one of those performances where, well, um, well here. This explains it best.

Yes. That's it.

It was hard to really gather much from this game, because it's felt like so many others. The Bucks couldn't execute when they needed to, Larry Sanders got a technical, Carlos Boozer was yelling expletives while another player actually did something on the court. That kind of game, y'know?

Coach Larry Drew appeared to be equally perplexed by a redundant poor performance, but he has more words than I do right now, so we'll let him guide us through this recap.

On the game going down the stretch:

"Going down the stretch, you've got to make plays. We had some good looks, they just didn't fall for us. We forced a few shots going down the stretch. Still, you have to make plays to win. It probably wasn't our best selection."

Seems like a pretty similar tale, doesn't it? Drew went on to talk about the team needing to be execute-by-committee down the stretch as a result of not having a go-to guy, but does it seem like they're really making advancements in that category? Can you see them tightening the screws late in games, even if by the smallest of margins, or does it look more like they forgot the screws in the box?

On foul trouble:

"We have to be smarter with our fouls. When you look at the stat sheet, the difference in the free throws was the difference in the game. When you put a team on that line that many teams and there is that big of a difference in the game, you can't expect good results in the end."

The Bulls shot 39 free throw attempts to the Bucks 12, and it seemed like everyone (at least, everyone important) was in foul trouble quickly in the first half. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middeton picked up two very early on and Larry Sanders couldn't keep himself in the game throughout. It's not like the Bulls offense was clicking by any means, they were just getting the most efficient shot in basketball offered to them at a high rate. It never felt like the Bucks adjusted their approach defensively, and the fouls just kept piling up as a result. Not the sharpest of nights on that end of the floor.

On Larry getting a technical in the second half:

Quick note: Larry shouldn't really be getting the benefit of the doubt anymore, but this technical didn't seem too egregious. That is, unless he said something extra that I couldn't hear. He got tangled up with Boozer wit 7:51 left in the third quarter, Boozer seemed to have swung back with his arm, Larry got angry, blah blah blah blah. Nevertheless, here was Drew's take:

"I don't know what started the whole thing. I'll have to look at the tape and see what happened. I know emotions get high, but the thing we don't want to see [with Larry] is that it starts to become a pattern. We don't want the snowball effect here. We'll continue to talk to Larry about just controlling his temper. We know it gets emotional, but he's got a reputation and he's gotta shake that."

Is it bad if I believe that they really are working on Larry and that he's been marginally better since his return (from lobbing champagne bottles at bar bros)? Regardless of your take, time is the best test to see whether Larry has finally gotten a decent grasp on his temper.

Stats

O.J. Mayo led the team with 16 points, followed by Luke Ridnour (14p/8a), Ersan Ilyasova (14p/6r), Brandon Knight (12p/4r), and Miroslav Raduljica (10p/5r). Ilyasova shot the ball relatively well (6-13, 2-2 from three) and looked a little less shattered physically. He may not be on his way to ''second half of the season'' Ersan, but if he can get a few weeks without any setbacks, Hobo Ersan may finally break free.  With Raduljica, he was mildly effective on both ends, doing his surprise PER thing once again. Something I noticed throughout the night though is that he brings the ball down a little bit when he catches it in the paint and does more of a scoopy little hook shot rather than a touch (overhand) shot. It's probably not a huge deal given his minute load and expectations, but it definitely was weird seeing that.

This also may have been Giannis's worst game (0p/1a/1r/3to/12min), which is tough to say because his last game in Phoenix was also a struggle. It wouldn't be outlandish to suggest Giannis has hit a little bit of a wall after surpassing everyone's expectations early on. He was in foul trouble early and was never able to find his impact on the game, which can somewhat be expected, as he's struggled against Chicago before. I wouldn't worry too much about it, though. There isn't anyone behind him pounding down the door to get into that starting lineup and he will likely find his rhythm shortly. Someone has to, right?

Coming Up

The Bucks are wheels up to Oklahoma City as we speak, where they'll take on the Thunder tomorrow. They then hop on up to Toronto to face the Raptors on Monday before returning home Wednesday to play the Memphis Grizzlies.

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