In the first Border Battle meeting of the season, the Bucks were able to get the job done against a tough Chicago Bulls team, 94-90.
This one began just as you likely had suspected. A strong showing of Bulls fans filled the Fiserv Forum crowd and helped spark their team out of the gates. However, the Bucks eventually found their grounding, and started to make their moves. Giannis Antetokounmpo would start to erupt and come alive, which was the leading ingredient in Milwaukee capturing a first quarter lead.
The Bulls would continue their scrappiness throughout the second quarter, making life difficult for the Bucks. DeMar DeRozan started to do his thing, cooking for 18 points in the half. However, Milwaukee would still cling to a one-point halftime advantage, 45-44.
Things would start to get pretty chippy in the third quarter. As Alex Caruso was going up for a dunk attempt, Grayson Allen caught him mid-air, making Caruso slam awkwardly on the ground. The play resulted in a flagrant two and Allen’s ejection from the game. That fueled the Bulls and their fans, as Chicago held the lead going into the final quarter of regulation, 69-68.
The fourth quarter would be a ping pong battle of baskets back-and-forth between the two teams. However, in the end, the Bucks would make more clutch shots down the stretch, and ultimately outlast their divisional foes, 94-90.
DeMar DeRozan would lead all scorers on the evening, capping off his night with 35 points. He’d also attempt 18 free throws on the night. Nikola Vucevic poured in 19 and hauled in 12 boards, earning the double-double.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way, finishing with 30 points and notching 12 rebounds. Khris Middleton fell next in line, contributing with 16 points. Jrue Holiday came off the bench for the second consecutive game and scored 13 points.
The Bucks brought the energy and hustle.
I think this was the stand-out stat of the game. The Bucks had 20 second-chance points compared to Chicago’s six. Milwaukee was just crashing the glass all night long. Khris had 11 boards. Giannis had 12 boards. Bobby had 13 boards. It was a pure example of grit, determination, and hustle. I asked Bud about the second-chance points after the game and this is what he had to say:
“Yeah, we needed to. There were enough misses. I think they started a little bigger, a little more traditional. They play a lot of the game with more like four wings and Vucevic and so if we can find ways to get to the boards and get extra chances especially on a night like tonight, it’s important.”
That hustle I was talking about? Bobby Portis had the same number of offensive rebounds as the entire Bulls team.
I feel like a broken record when I say this, but man...the energy that Bobby Portis brings is simply unmatched. Last night, he was simply a rebounding machine. He hauled in 13 total boards on the night, which was a game-high. Six of those came on the offensive end, which was the same number that the entire Bulls roster had. Rebounding hasn’t exactly been Portis’ strong suit this season, so you know he’ll use this to his advantage as things progress. Considering he didn’t exactly shoot the ball well, he was still able to get his fingerprints on the game.
The Bucks won an ugly game.
Sometimes in the NBA, you gotta win ugly, and that’s exactly what the Bucks did last night. You always know that your team will occasionally have some off nights and with all of their misses, last night fell under that category for Milwaukee. However, a win is a win in this league, and the Bucks were happy to get one. Here’s what Bud had to say about winning ugly:
“Sometimes, you gotta find a way to win the ugly games and I think credit to Chicago, the defensive effort they’re putting out there...their young guys, the way they’re playing...I think we talk about versatility in a lot of different ways and I think you gotta be versatile in the kind of games you can win, so yeah, very proud of the guys for them to find a way to win tonight and we had to earn that.”
Bonus Bucks Bits
- With last night’s victory, the Bucks have now won 13 of the last 14 games against Chicago. That includes six straight at home.
- That Donte dime to Giannis in the first half was a thing of beauty. ICYMI, here it is:
As Barry DeJay would say in Backyard Basketball...Donte was dishing it out like ice cream. In his presser, Giannis said he was surprised that he caught that pass. He joked that he’s getting old and that he’s not moving the same anymore.
- During the game, Khris Middleton missed a pair of free throws. I can’t remember the last time that happened — if it ever happened.
- Regarding the Grayson Allen flagrant two, Billy Donovan was pretty heated in his postgame presser:
Donovan really went off on Allen. Even said this history dates to his days at Duke. Said Allen's play doesn't compare to Mitchell Robinson's flagrant that injured Patrick Williams. Said Robinson's was a basketball play. Allen's had intent. https://t.co/aC1S2PkZWp— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 22, 2022
- The whistle was indeed confusing a few times last night...
Middleton was furious after this one. And I don't blame him. DeRozan got this exact whistle on multiple jumpers tonight. https://t.co/7lRyAN4Vuw— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) January 22, 2022
- That Wes Matthews defensive possession on DeRozan in the fourth was a thing of beauty. He’s still got it.
- George Hill tried to unleash a poster attempt on Nikola Vucevic. It did not go well.
- This was quite the impressive block from Mr. Antetokounmpo:
- Speaking of Giannis, he started his presser with a bang once again:
Another joke from Giannis to start off his presser:— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 22, 2022
"Why did the chicken cross the street? It was running away from my dinner plate."