This game was a dog-fight. And dog-fights aren’t pretty. The Milwaukee Bucks forced the Bulls to play at their junk-yard dog pace and it almost worked.
Then in the fourth quarter, talent won out. Jimmy Butler scored 14 of his career playoff high 31 points in the fourth quarter. Joakim Noah hauled in 19 rebounds, and Derrick Rose shook off a miserable start, as the Bulls won a tough one over the Bucks, 91-82 at the United Center to take a 2-0 lead in the best of 7 first round series.
The game was in doubt early in the fourth quarter with the Bucks leading 74-71 on the fine play of Khris Middleton (20 points). Then the Bulls took their offense out of mothballs and went on a 13-0 run to take the lead that they never gave up.
Jason Kidd’s imprints were all over this game. The Bucks, plodding on offense, forced their pace on the Bulls. Oh, it was an ugly game, Rose going 0-7 in the first half, Gasol missing open shots. But Butler was steady and Mike Dunleavy made some big treys to keep Chicago close. Nikola Mirotic scored at the buzzer to give the Bulls a slim 39-38 half-time lead. Rose made a great assist on that play.
Chicago won despite shooting 38% from the field. The Bulls had an off night at the charity strip making 17 of 27 attempts. Milwaukee hit 36% of its shots. The Bulls outrebounded the Bucks 64-48. The Bucks had many open looks that were off the mark. When it counted, the Bulls made more shots in the key moments of the game. Butler scored 14 in the fourth guarter and that was the total of the Bucks team in the quarter. Rose hit a bucket in the closing moments to put the game out of reach.
“It wasn’t a pretty game but we found a way to win,” said Pau Gasol. Gasol had a quiet 11 points to go with 16 rebounds.
The game featured 7 technicals and Zaza Pachulia was ejected at the 2:38 mark in the fourth quarter for a shoving match with Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic bumped his knee somehow and is listed as day-to-day.
Rose had 15 points, 12 in the third quarter, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. However, it was Butler who was spectacular, making every shot in the book. Butler wanted it and the Bulls rode his back.