Bulls 104, Bucks 88

The Chicago Bulls weren’t about to squander another second half

lead against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Twice this season, the Bucks have rallied in the second half to

beat the Bulls, including storming back from a 27-point deficit

late in the third quarter at Chicago in November.

”The fact that we lost a couple of leads against these guys

before, we didn’t want to let our guard down,” Bulls coach Tom

Thibodeau said. ”They are a very good team and they keep coming at

you. You have to stay ready. We had a lot of guys step up.”

One of those guys was Nate Robinson, who scored 16 of his 24

points in the second quarter, leading the Bulls to a 104-88 victory

Wednesday night.

”Nate played with great energy, which was a huge plus,”

Thibodeau said.

Another key for Chicago was Jimmy Butler, a second-year pro from

Marquette, who added 18 points, one shy his career high set in the

Bulls’ previous game, and five rebounds in a return to the arena

where he played college basketball.

Thibodeau credited Butler with being valuable whether starting

or coming off the bench.

”He’s a big lift,” Thibodeau said. ”He can guard, he can

score and play multiple positions and make hustle plays. He’s doing

a lot for us. He’s a big part of this team.”

Samuel Dalembert had 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for

the Bucks. Ersan Ilyasova added 18 points and seven rebounds.

Chicago broke open the game midway through the second quarter,

using a 20-4 run to take a 49-30 lead. The run included a long

3-point shot by Robinson, who capped the rally with a driving

layup. He was fouled on the play by Brandon Jennings, and converted

the free throw.

Robinson, who also had a breakaway dunk during the run, shot 7

for 9 from the floor during the quarter to help Chicago take a

55-37 lead at the half.

”My teammates have been teasing me all season, talking about

how I’m a three-time slam-dunk champion and I didn’t get no

dunks,” Robinson said. ”My fans have been asking me when I’m

going to dunk again so hopefully they’ll get off my back now.”

The Bulls shot 51 percent from the field in the first half,

while the Bucks made just 39 percent of their attempts. Jennings

and Monta Ellis, the Bucks’ top scorers, combined for just 11

points in the half on 4-for-14 shooting. Jennings finished the game

with 15 points, while Ellis had 12.

The Bucks stormed back in the third quarter, using a 25-14 run

at the start of the period to pull within seven points. Jennings,

who was ejected late in the game after being called for a technical

foul keyed the comeback, scoring 11 points in the quarter.

The Bulls used a 10-6 run to close the period to take a 79-68

lead.

Chicago scored 10 of the first 14 points in the fourth quarter

to extend the lead, highlighted by a breakaway dunk by Butler.

”They started to make a run, but we slowed them down, stopped

them in transition and contested their shots and they started

missing and we went down and capitalized,” Butler said.

Chicago’s big second quarter forced Milwaukee to play ”uphill”

for the remainder of the game, Bucks coach Jim Boylan said.

”We just didn’t have enough in the tank. It was their typical

game; they’re a good, physical team and they play a physical brand

of basketball and it took its toll on us tonight,” he said.

Ilyasova admitted that the Bucks weren’t effective on offense

throughout much of the game.

”Offensively, we looked a little tired. We couldn’t make some

open shots,” he said.

The Bulls scored a season-high 66 points in the paint.

”We needed to stop the guy with the ball in the paint,”

Ilyasova said. ”We have to play a little more aggressive next time

defensively.”

The Bulls took a 23-19 lead at the end of the first quarter,

paced by Taj Gibson’s six points and four rebounds. The Bucks were

led by Dalembert’s seven points and five rebounds in the

period.

Boylan said he didn’t think Jennings, who wasn’t available for

comment after the game, was forced off his game because of his

heated head-to-head battle with Robinson.

”Even though he and Brandon are going at it, I don’t think it’s

taking away from Brandon’s game,” Boylan said.

Butler viewed it differently.

”They were going at it. Brandon Jennings is a big-time player

but you get frustrated, a lot of different things can happen and he

definitely got frustrated,” Butler said.

NOTES: Bucks forward Larry Sanders sat out Wednesday’s night

game due to illness. Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan said Sanders was

ill during Tuesday’s game in Detroit against the Pistons, where he

was limited to 16 minutes and scored three points. Samuel Dalembert

started a hamstring injury suffered in Tuesday night’s game against

Charlotte. Gibson replaced him. … Boylan said he thought Jennings

should have been named to replace injured Celtics guard Rajon Rando

on the All-Star team. ”I thought Brandon deserved to be selected

the way he’s been playing recently,” Boylan said. Brooklyn’s Brook

Lopez was chosen over Jennings. … Due to an engine issue with the

team plane, the Bucks returned to Milwaukee around 11 a.m.

Wednesday. The team had expected to fly out of Detroit on Tuesday

night. … Chicago has won six consecutive games at the Bradley

Center. The Bulls’ last loss in Milwaukee was 96-93 on Jan. 8,

2010.