Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol combined for 45 points and 24 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls over the Milwaukee Bucks 95-86 on Wednesday night. The Bulls got double-digit scoring from every member of their starting lineup, which included Derrick Rose for the first time since October 31. Rose had 13 points, seven assists, and two steals.
There were no real standout performances for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the team with 13 points in 27 minutes off the bench and looked like the squad's best player for much of the night. He showed the same decisiveness and controlled aggression that made him so successful in summer exhibition season, getting inside on slower defenders and exploiting matchups whenever possible. But there was also a little of his characteristic sloppiness on display, like losing the ball out of bounds on a fast break.
The Bucks held a four-point lead at halftime behind a true team effort. Eleven different players saw the court in the first 24 minutes, and every single one of them scored at least two points. Giannis made some great plays in the first half, sinking a fadeaway jumper over Kirk Hinrich and flushing an alley-oop following a big-time block by Larry Sanders. Brandon Knight also had six assists and two steals before halftime. Milwaukee's first-half success was largely in thanks to major improvements in two areas: they held Chicago to only four offensive rebounds (18.2 ORR) and turned the ball over just four times (8.3 TOR).
Things took a quick turn for the worse after the break, as the Bulls ripped off an 11-2 run to open the third quarter before Jason Kidd called for a timeout just four minutes in. The Bucks committed three turnovers in that stretch, two of which led to Chicago run-outs. Milwaukee was able to stabilize things a bit before the quarter ended--a three-pointer from O.J. Mayo made it a two-point game entering the final period. Things stayed close for much of the 4th, but the Bulls seemed to answer every made basket with one of their own. The Bucks just couldn't get the stops they needed to completely close the gap. A wide-open corner three from Kirk Hinrich with 2:15 to play made it an eight-point game and the Bucks never got closer than six the rest of the way, as the Bulls closed things out entirely from the free-throw line.
The Bucks put in a strong effort on the glass and weren't overly careless with the ball, but ultimately poor shooting was too much to overcome. Knight, Mayo, and Jabari Parker led the team in field goal attempts but combined to shoot a brutal 10-39 from the floor. Parker showed a couple of strong moves, including a quick drive into the lane for an easy basket to snap a Bucks cold streak, but he finished with just eight points and six rebounds in one of his weaker showings so far this season.