The Milwaukee Bucks threw a scare into the Chicago Bulls and Game 3 had so many plot twists, a novelist would have been exhausted.
Derrick Rose played 48 minutes and after taking a fall late in the game, seemed OK. Bulls fans breathed a sigh of relief and saw him play his most complete game when it really mattered.
Rose scored a game high 34 points and the Bulls held off the upstart Bucks 113-106 in 2 over times. Rose made one of two FT’s to tie the game at 95 all to send the game to a first OT.
Milwaukee had chances to win it but could not convert a basket as the Bulls woke up and played tenacious defense in the OT, badgering the Bucks into misses. Then in the 2 OT, Chicago got 4 turnovers and promptly went out to a 113-103 lead. The game was in hand while the Bucks added a few points. Butler and Rose stood tall. Butler (24 points) opened the 2nd OT scoring on a steal and dunk and the Bulls didn’t look back.
Rose made shot after shot from all points on the court. He was a force. He played as well as he had all season, before his latest injury. Butler was lurking nearby ready to make a great defensive stop or hit a basket. And, when the team needed a trey, Tony Snell stepped up and delivered 4 big ones. Snell ended up with 16 points.
Pau Gasol was heavily guarded and managed to score 17 points and haul in 14 boards.
Chicago’s win enables the Bulls to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs. Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday.
Credit the Bucks for making this a close game. They raced out to a 49-31 2nd quarter lead and then the Bulls played team defense and got back in the game. “We made our run to give ourselves a change to get back in it,” said Coach Tom Thibodeau.
Milaukee’s Giannis Antetokounpo had 25 points to lead the Bucks charge. Michael Carter-Williams had 19 and Khris Middeton added 18. Middleton had 8 points in a late 4th quarter surge that nearly shocked the Bulls. The game was seemingly over yet Milwaukee made a late run with Middleton making huge shots. Rose’s FT with 4 seconds left forced OT.
However, Rose and Butler scored 58 points between them and that was enough to hold off the Bucks and to think about a sweep on Saturday.