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Bulls vs. Bucks final score: Losing streak hits three as Bulls limp to defeat

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

That was about as bad of a second half as one could imagine, with the Bulls not only timidly going down to friggin' Milwaukee Bucks for their 3rd straight defeat, but having both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler limping to the finish.

We'll have to wait and see on either Bulls guard. Derrick didn't look to have injured himself on a particular play or anything, but early in the 2nd half he started pawing at his left knee before a Bulls timeout. After doing a bunch of goofy stretches and training apparatuses (more depressing than just seeing him go to the locker room), Rose tried to come back in the final few minutes of the game but quickly re-exited.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler (who's been nursing a thigh injury for some time, or so the beat writers keep tweeting) sprained an ankle (or something?) and was visibly limping down the stretch as he tried to keep the Bulls from collapsing. He was probably doing a bit too much, and the team went on a spectacular field goal drought to end the game: 2 fgs in the final 7 minutes, one a garbage-time three from Gasol which (sadly) extended the 100-point streak and people mentioning the streak.

Butler did finish with a game-high 30 points, but his 4 turnovers were part of the Bulls 17 and it is officially a trend to where they're getting killed on these live-ball giveaways. With no Rose, the Bulls tried Jimmy at PG (Aaron Brooks played a lot with him but Jimmy mostly handled the ball) to theoretically cut down on the turnovers but it didn't work. The Bucks sold out what cruddy team defense they have to absolutely swarm Butler or any Bulls ballhandler, either forcing bad passes or failed attempts to split the 2 defenders. And the Bucks have lengthy athletes who can finish, and they did with 17 fast-break points.

Early in this game it looked like those halcyon days of, er, last week with the Bucks showing off their league-worst D as the Bulls were given several open 3-point attempts that they converted.  And Rose, like the night before, had a great start going 3/3 in the first quarter for 7 points. While Milwaukee did a little better when they went small (ironically their 'big' lineup was awful at trying to finish inside, including boffing two dunks), it was a 29-10 first quarter lead for the Bulls.

Then in the 2nd the Bulls came out and shot 2/13 from the field. It was a lot of odd lineups, including Niko playing alongside a Portis/Noah frontcourt. But they couldn't effectively make use of their size advantage to get good shots and were giving up baskets to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was 4/4 in the 2nd quarter alone for 11 points, bringing the Bucks to within 2 points midway through the quarter. Thankfully the Bulls did start to impose their will on the offensive glass at least, and kept the Bucks at arms' length. What certainly helped was 12 first-half points from Tony Snell, who played a bit extra as Doug McDermott sprained his ankle a few minutes into his night (he wound up coming back briefly in the 4th as Jimmy had to get some kind of rest). Snell finished with 17 and was part of some positive runs throughout the night, but had 3 turnovers himself.

Between Rose's injury and the many bad-looking turnovers, the 3rd Quarter was a real shitshow as a 5 point halftime lead turned into an 8-point deficit. Then Chicago, perhaps not coincidentally when they had a sensible lineup with Niko out of the SF spot, went on a 12-1 run to re-take the lead, and the game stayed close from then on, until the final stretch where the Bucks executed on more clutch possessions, including a Kris Middleton fadeaway right in Butler's eye with under 30-second remaining.

Middleton was held somewhat in check, needing 16 shots for his 16 points. The real star for the Bucks was Giannis, who benefited from a lot of those Bulls turnovers but also showed off fantastic quickness and surprising strength inside. The Bulls had nobody to really guard him, especially when in their own 'jumbo' lineup. Every Bucks starter wound up in double-figures, as especially late in the game they were getting inside even when they weren't on a breakaway.

Beyond the aforementioned Butler and Snell, only Nikola Mirotic had a good offensive game. Pau Gasol had maybe his worst game of the season, as throwing out that garbage garbage GARBAGE three-pointer he shot 3-11 for 7 points, missing a couple point-blank layups. Outside of some early rim-protecting he was getting beat easily on defense too, and for some reason Hoiberg is still playing him nearly entire quarters when he's clearly out of gas near the end of those stints. Gasol finished with nearly 36 mintues (on a back-to-back!) whereas Noah played 15. Noah certainly didn't look great or anything but the point is more Gasol just shouldn't be playing that long anymore. Between that, both Rose and McDermott re-entering games where they were hurt, and Jimmy Butler limping around down the stretch and going over 40 minutes, it wasn't a good night to see the kindler, gentler Bulls coaching staff. Not that players can't ever re-enter games, but worth noting that it's not like the Bulls are sacrificing regular-season wins for better health, they're just getting beat.