MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- During the Bulls' recent struggles, Carlos Boozer has seen his minutes dwindle, especially late in games, and has been a lightning rod of sorts for frustrated fans. But his effort Saturday could be a sign of better things to come.
Boozer scored 22 points and pulled down a season-high 19 rebounds -- recording his fourth double-double in the last five games -- as Chicago pulled away late Saturday for a 93-86 victory at Milwaukee, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.
The 6-foot-9 veteran was a dominant force in the paint, hitting 10 of 15 shots and grabbing eight offensive rebounds -- two fewer than the Bucks' team total.
"They did a good job in the beginning," Boozer said. "It was a track meet, they play really fast. But we caught up to them and tied it up at the half and in the second half our defense played better. Honestly, that's the reason why we won the game. We had a couple stops when we needed to."
Boozer played 36 minutes Saturday, his second-highest total of the season and was a decisive force down the stretch, hitting three of four shots and grabbing five rebounds in the fourth quarter.
"He played hard, he made a great effort on the boards," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He was terrific."
Along with Boozer, Rip Hamilton scored 22 points and Luol Deng added 14 as the Bulls got back to the .500 mark.
The victory was Chicago's eighth in a row against the Bucks and fifth straight in Milwaukee. The two teams, separated by just a half-game in the Central Division, meet again Monday in Chicago.
"When we play them, these games can go either way," Thibodeau said. "They're hard-fought and tough. We've been fortunate to come out this way but they're really good. They play hard, they play together, they play smart. It's always a tough game."
Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings started strong, connecting on six of his first eight field goals and scoring 15 of his team-leading 23 in the first quarter but was helped off the court after suffering an injury to his left ankle with 23 seconds to play.
His ankle was iced after the game and his status for Monday's rematch wasn't certain.
"I rolled my ankle and sprained it, that's about it," Jennings said.
Monta Ellis shot 7 for 17 from field to finish with 17 points. Beno Udrih and Tobias Harris also finished in double-digit scoring, adding 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Free throws went a long way in helping Chicago get back to .500. The Bulls went to the line 26 times -- converting 25 -- while the Bucks were just 7-of-10 from the stripe. Rebounding, too, gave Chicago a boost as the Bulls held a 54-40 advantage on the boards and had 25 second-chance points to just five for the Bucks (6-5).
"If we're going to give them 20 offensive rebounds and have that kind of free throw disparity, the only way you can make that up is by knocking down threes and we didn't do that, either," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "It was a kind of grind-it-out game and when it really came time to grind it out, they did it to us. They got all of the boards and pushed us around, they took it from us."
Led by Jennings' hot start, Milwaukee built a 30-28 lead after the first quarter. With the reserves in, the Bucks extended the lead to six points, going up 41-35 after Epke Udoh's 16-foot jumper with 6:24 left in the half.
Chicago chipped away, and finally tied the game when Taj Gibson hit a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left. Ersan Ilyasova's 3-point attempt missed the rim and the teams went into halftime tied at 52-52.
NOTES: Seldom-used center Joel Przybilla started for Milwaukee in place of Samuel Dalembert, who had been averaging 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 10 games (all starts). ... Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, a former Marquette University standout, played his college ball in the Bradley Center. ... Once again, Bucks forward Drew Gooden was inactive, though healthy. He has yet to dress for a game this season. ... The Bulls are 4-0 when holding opponents to under 90 points ... Milwaukee lost to a Central Division opponent for the first time this season ... Milwaukee head coach Scott Skiles went 165-172 as head coach of the Bulls from 2003-2007.