Author: Nick Osen
MILWAUKEE- After getting blown out by the Raptors in Toronto, the Milwaukee Bucks played host to division rival Chicago. The Bulls (13-11) were also coming off a loss, losing at the hands of the Timberwolves and former coach Tom Thibodeau on Tuesday.
NBA on TNT Thursday is always a pretty big deal, but it couldn’t get much bigger today, as TNT and the whole NBA world lost a legend today in Craig Sager.
Sager was absolutely terrific at his job, and was an even more impressive human being off the court. The decorative sideline broadcaster inspired, and even directly helped many families of cancer patients, including my own.
After a nice #SagerStrong tribute at the Bradley Center, the game got started with a three from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jimmy Butler scored four early points for Chicago, but the Bucks got off to a fast 16-8 start about five minutes in, led by seven from Jabari Parker and the Greek Freak, respectively.
It’s safe to say Jabari Parker came to play tonight, as the Chicago native scored 12 points in the first eight minutes, including one of the best dunks of the year thus far. Antetokounmpo joined the double-digits as well, scoring 12 in his first nine minutes, including 2-2 from deep, leading the Bucks to a tune of 30-18 after one.
After hitting four three-pointers in the first quarter, the home squad kept it up in the second quarter. This time Mirza Teletovic led the charge, hitting a three and a tough driving layup to force a timeout and put Milwaukee up by 16, 38-22.
The Bucks started pouring it on, and just did not let up on either end. Heavy pressure and smart shots helped the home team get out to a whopping 24 point lead, only halfway through the second quarter, at 52-28. Chicago had a nice little stretch at the end of the first half, cutting the deficit to 64-45 at the break.
Butler and Taj Gibson had good production accounting for 27 points in the first half, but they truly did not get enough help, especially from the bench for Chicago. On the other side, the Bucks got 37 from their two young stars, and Teletovic also put up 10 in just 11 minutes.
Parker and the Greek Freak kept up their great chemistry early, both assisting to each other for monster slams in the third. Parker continues to show his star potential, and it really makes you wonder how good he and Giannis can be together.
Milwaukee went into the final quarter leading 88-66, but due to the Bulls’ lackluster effort and Bucks’ stifling defense, this one felt like it was over from the get go.
With the Bucks leading 95-75 with about nine and a half minutes left in the fourth, former Marquette star Dwyane Wade led a quick 6-0 run to cut the lead to 14, showing some signs of energy from the Bulls.
Chicago really made it feel like a comeback in the fourth, cutting the lead all the way down to eight at 103-95. Matthew Dellavedova showed leadership toward the finish, and Milwaukee kept up their tight defense, leading to a 108-97 victory over the Bulls to get back to .500 at 12-12.
Bulls star and Midwest native Dwyane Wade was asked about the Bucks performance after the game and preparing for tomorrow’s rematch, specifically on the defensive end. “We’re gonna have to play better defensively against them tomorrow, and not let them see the ball go through the basket. They’re a long team, so we have to play to their length.”
Tonight was a big divisional win for the Bucks (12-12), and they will face the Bulls (13-12) again tomorrow night, this time in Chicago.