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Bulls finally beat Bucks in third attempt

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- There would be no comeback this time.

After surrendering double-digits leads in their last two losses against Milwaukee, the Chicago Bulls put a halt to every attempt at a surge Wednesday, holding on to beat the Bucks 104-88 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Nate Robinson scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter, and five other Bulls players scored in double digits.

Chicago's Jimmy Butler, who played in Milwaukee while at Marquette, scored 18 points and had six rebounds. Taj Gibson finished with 14 points, and Luol Deng and Joakim Noah each scored 12 for Chicago (28-17). Deng grabbed 13 rebounds, and Noah pulled down 12.

Chicago's defense was also clicking, holding Milwaukee to just 41.5 percent from the field and forcing 19 turnovers, which the Bulls converted into 24 points.

"I liked our toughness," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought we showed some mental toughness and some fight and got back to make some hustle plays. I thought Kirk (Hinrich) played great defense all night. That team is hard to guard."

With Larry Sanders out of the Bucks' lineup due to illness, the Bulls took advantage of Milwaukee's Samuel Dalembert and Epke Udoh, outscoring the Bucks 66-40 in the paint and winning the rebounding battle 45-41 while shooting 49.5 percent from the field.

"This was a team effort," Robinson said. "We talked about coming in here and playing our hardest. We gave away two wins at home against them."

Ersan Ilyasova led Milwaukee (24-20) with 18 points, while Brandon Jennings had 15 points and eight assists. Dalembert finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

"Sam had a good game," Boylan said. "He's trying to play his way back into shape. He kind of ran out of gas a little bit. That's something we'll keep working at so he can play more extended minutes."

Gibson got Chicago off to a good start, scoring six points with four rebounds as the Bulls took a 23-19 lead in the first quarter. Dalembert scored seven on 3-of-4 shooting.

Chicago stretched the lead to as many as 20 points late in the second quarter as Robinson's 16 points nearly matched the Bucks' 18 for the quarter, giving the Bulls a 55-37 lead at the break.

The Bucks made a charge in the third, with Jennings leading the way. He pulled Milwaukee within eight after hitting a 3-pointer and a layup on consecutive possessions, making it a 65-57 game with 6:31 left in the quarter.

But the Bucks turned the ball over five times in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, helping the Bulls go ahead by 16.

"Every time we'd get it to six or eight, they'd come up with a steal or a tip-in," Boylan said. "They just flat-out beat us."

Milwaukee cut the lead to 10 with 3:27 to play before Jennings was ejected for after arguing an offensive foul. The Bulls closed with a 12-4 run for their eighth victory in the last 10 games.

NOTES: Chicago's Carlos Boozer missed the game with a sore left hamstring ... The road team won each game in this season's series ... Milwaukee is 4-7 in the second half of back-to-back games ... Before the game, Boylan thought Jennings should have replaced Rajon Rondo on the Eastern Conference All-Star team instead of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez. "I thought they'd give him a strong consideration. I hope they did," Boylan said of Jennings. "Obviously the commissioner makes the decision. Brooklyn has a good team; they are playing well and deserve to have an All-Star, so it's hard to argue." Jennings leads the Bucks with 18.9 points and 6.0 assists per game and is averaging 23.8 points and 8.0 rebounds in his last five games. ... Thibodeau said Butler is making progress. "He's earned everything that he's gotten," Thibodeau said. "He continues to put work in and he keeps getting better." Butler is averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in his past 11 games.
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