MILWAUKEE (AP)—It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee Bucks to show off their new style of hustle and muscle.
Only about one quarter.
After missing 18 of their first 21 shots and falling behind 15-2, the Bucks stormed back to rout the Chicago Bulls 98-68 Saturday, giving Milwaukee native Terry Porter a win in his home coaching debut.
“Knowing how he was as a player, we’re just trying to go out there and take his image onto the floor,” said Joe Smith, who had 19 points and nine rebounds. “That’s what we have to do every night.
“We don’t have any All-Stars or that big-name player on this team. So, we have to go out there and outwork our opponents every night.”
The Bucks (2-1) not only held the Bulls (1-2) to 28 percent shooting but also outrebounded one of the bigger lineups in the East 54-45 and outscored the Chicago 46-24 in the paint.
When Porter, a first-year coach who used his guts and guile to play 17 seasons in the NBA, took over from George Karl last summer and inherited a revamped roster that lacked superstars.
“We said from Day 1, defense and rebounding have got to be the two things we emphasize,” Porter said.
The Bucks displayed both in overcoming their slow start.
“This is the best defensive team I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said fourth-year guard Michael Redd, who grabbed 11 rebounds. “This is the best we’ve ever scrapped and played hard every possession.”
Smith scored 12 points in the third quarter as Milwaukee turned a tight game into a blowout, eight straight during a 24-3 run gave the Bucks a 71-51 lead.
The Bulls never recovered and finished with one of the worst halves in their history, scoring just 26 points and making only eight field goals—one more than the franchise low—in 33 chances.
Porter, hired after team owner Herb Kohl changed his mind about selling the club to Michael Jordan, got a bigger ovation during introductions than any of his players.
The cheers quickly turned to jeers when Milwaukee missed 14 of its first 15 shots. But the Bucks recovered to lead 43-42 at halftime.
Tim Thomas’ two free throws with 9:52 left in the third put Milwaukee ahead 49-48 and sparked the big run. The Bucks eventually built their lead to 30.
The Bulls’ 26 second-half points were just three more than their lowest one-half production ever, which occurred most recently against Miami on April 10, 1999.
The Bulls failed to capitalize on the Bucks’ early shooting woes because they missed their share of easy baskets, too, including a breakaway by Crawford and two dunks and two putbacks by Chandler.
“We had some opportunities that were real nice,” Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said. “It’s disappointing to have that happen, but I don’t think anybody wants to miss a shot or a layup. It’s just something that you do. You just try to play through it.”
The Bucks certainly did.
The Bulls have lost 11 straight at the Bradley Center. … Milwaukeeimproved to 25-11 in home openers, including 3-2 against Chicago.