The Chicago Bulls (6-7) had defeated the Milwaukee Bucks (7-5) nine straight times heading into Monday night’s showdown in Chicago. However, the Bucks overcame a 27-point fourth quarter deficit to start their own win streak as they beat the Bulls 93-92 to stay atop the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.
Milwaukee scored 30 points in the fourth quarter while they held Chicago to a measly 12 points, half of what they mustered in the second quarter. The Bucks’ second squad was the difference maker in the game as Ersan Ilyasova, who has been coming off the bench recently due to a lack of production, scored 18 points with six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. Ekpe Udoh was also huge as he scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, but his five blocks were the biggest contribution of the night.
The Bucks shot a terrible 20 percent from beyond the arc, which is very unlike them as Milwaukee prides themselves on being a top notch 3-point shooting team. Also, their 63.2 free throw percentage was not very good either and could have easily cost them the game. However, the Bucks did outshoot the Bulls with a 45.9 field goal percentage versus Chicago’s 43.8 percent.
If anything, Milwaukee’s hard-nosed, aggressive style of defense deserves the credit for the victory. Obviously, the Bucks’ offense was the reason they were able to outscore the Bulls by 18 points in the fourth quarter. However, Milwaukee’s staggering 12 blocks and four steals is what ultimately won the contest.
Head coach Scott Skiles wants his team to swarm the ball and block as many shots as possible on defense to give the offense an edge. As soon as a shot is blocked or someone creates a turnover, it is off to the races as the Bucks are a very quick team up and down the court. Skiles also believes his second string of players is the best in the league and they win games by simply playing better than their opponent’s second squad plays.
The Bucks must use the win as a confidence booster, as well as motivation for when they play tougher opponents. The fact that Milwaukee has been able to stick with just about every team they have faced this season is certainly a sign of good things to come as the Bucks are trying to reach the postseason for the first time in three years.
Milwaukee cannot celebrate their thrilling victory for long because they host the New York Knicks (9-4) on Wednesday night. This will be a big game for the Bucks and they will have a great opportunity to make up ground in the conference on the third place Knicks.