DeRozan’s 40 Not Enough, Bucks Lock Up Central

The reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks (49-30) keep winning and not complaining about not being heavy favorites to represent the Eastern conference, despite winning it all a year ago. They finished a season sweep (4-0) of the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night 127-106. 

Photo: AP

After trailing early 8-6 early in the first quarter Milwaukee took the lead and never trailed again. 

They showed how balanced they are as a team, and they don’t have to just rely on the reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to do everything. Six other Bucks scored in double-figures for head coach Mike Budenholzer as his team led by 12 (58-46) at the half before going up by as many as 21. The most astonishing stat for this Bucks team heading into that halftime lead is that Giannis only had three FG attempts (5 points) and no Free-throw attempts . Five of his teammates had more FG attempts, yet they still had a comfortable lead against a playoff team.

Giannis finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and seven assist. 

They were led by big man Brook Lopez (who missed 68 games due to his back injury) who scored 28 points (9-9 FT) and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Khris Middleton had 19 points. Bobby Portis (13 pts) and Grayson Allen chipped in with 13 points each who was essentially booed every time he touched the ball in front of Bulls fans because of the hard foul he had on Bulls guard Alex Caruso resulting in him fracturing his wrist and missing several weeks.

The Bucks made 23-25 free throws and shot 53% of the field (46-87). This win solidifies the Central division for Milwaukee and puts them in a virtual three-way tie with the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia Sixers for the second seed out West

“I think you should take a quick minute to just appreciate,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Winning anything in this league is hard. Winning a game (is hard). We talk about it all the time in film sessions and practices, how hard it is to win a game. To win a division means something. Chicago is having a heck of a year. Cleveland. It’s a much better division. Yeah, appreciate and respect what these guys done and to do it four straight years, it’s meaningful.” 

A positive for the Bulls (45-34) after this defeat is they were still able to clinch a playoff berth despite the loss due to the fact the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Orlando Magic 120-115. Which means they avoid the play-in tournament. 

Photo By: NBA.com

Their All-Star guard DeMar DeRozen put on a scoring show scoring a game-high 40 points (20 in the 3rd) on 61% for the field and made all eight of his free throws. It was his 28th game scoring at least 30+ points and ties him with the great Micheal Jordan with the most such games in a single season. 

DeRozen was the only Bulls player to score in double-figures in the first half. 

That might have had to do with DeRozan missing his backcourt mate Zach LaVine because of left knee soreness. Head coach Billy Donovan didn’t get much from former All-Star Nikola Vucevic who shot 3-19 from the field and just seven points. Second year who missed most of the season because wrist surgery added 18 points. They were 13-13 from the free throw as a team.  

The Bulls are now a combined 2-20 against the top four teams in the East and West. 

Starting point guard Lonzo Ball who hasn’t played since Jan. 14 who was thought to join the team late this season experienced another setback in his recovery from surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee, raising more doubt about whether he will play again this season. Ball felt some discomfort after he tried to ramp up activities again following a 10-day pause, coach Billy Donovan said.

Bucks Next Game: Host the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Bulls Next Game: Host the Celtics on Wednesday.

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