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Bulls vs. Bucks final score: Khris Middleton’s late 3-pointer hands Chicago a 116-113 loss

another competitive loss

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Just like the Bulls’ first game in Milwaukee this season, Chicago went up double digits thanks to a 40-point first quarter on Wednesday night at the new Fiserv Forum. But unlike that first game, the Bulls actually stuck around after the Bucks stormed back to take their lead, only to lose 116-113 on a Khris Middleton 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left.

It looked like the Bucks were ready to break away at multiple points in the second half, but the Bulls kept hitting huge shots to keep the game within reach. And by the time the last few minutes rolled around, the Bulls had the game right there for the stealing.

The Bulls took multiple leads late in the final frame, with their last lead coming courtesy of a beautiful Zach LaVine dime to a cutting Jabari Parker for an and-1:

Parker missed the free throw, though, and Giannis Antetokounmpo came back down and dunked for what felt like the millionth time. Ryan Arcidiacono and Brook Lopez traded 3-point misses, and then Parker had his shot blocked off his body, with the call being overturned in the Bucks’ favor after a video review.

Giannis fouled Wendell Carter Jr. out on the other end (of course) and hit two free throws, but LaVine quickly converted on a nice 2-for-1 layup. Then chaos ensued:

Eric Bledsoe had been invisible all night, but he came up with the hustle tap-out to Malcolm Brogdon, who made the smart extra pass to Middleton for the game-winning triple. Middleton had been rather quiet as well, but he hit the big trey when the Bucks needed it most after they had started the fourth quarter 1-of-10 from distance.

The Bulls got a great look at the other end to send the game to overtime, but Justin Holiday missed the 3-pointer as part of a tough 2-of-10 3-point shooting night. This has been noted before, but Holidays home/road splits are crazy, and this game only contributes to that disparity. The veteran is now shooting percent 45.9 percent from 3 at home and 34.5 percent on the road this season.

The Bulls were led by LaVine and Parker’s 24 points apiece (17-of-39 shooting combined), and they were the ones who got the team out to their scorching start. They combined to score 19 of the Bulls’ first 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting as they quickly ran out to an 11-point lead against a lethargic Bucks squad that has had its issues in the first quarter.

Both players also stuffed the stat sheet. LaVine grabbed nine rebounds and handed out seven assists to only one turnover, while Parker had eight rebounds and five assists. Parker had a rough trying-to-do-too-much stretch in the second quarter that helped Milwaukee get back in it, and he got murdered by Giannis a few times, but overall it was another solid game for the former Buck.

However, the Bulls’ best player on this night very well may have been Ryan Arcidiacono. After the point guard poured in a career-high 22 points against the Spurs and nearly saved the day, he almost did it again in Milwaukee. Arch went for 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting overall and 5-of-9 from 3. He also had five rebounds, five steals and four assists:

Arch made play after play on both ends of the floor, and his hustle can be contagious. The Bulls were also brutal when he was off the floor and the other point guards were in. Cam Payne did convert on three nice floaters, including a huge and-1 in the fourth quarter with the Bulls down six, but he was still a minus-16 in 17 minutes as he continues to struggle on defense. Shaq Harrison tries hard but is awful offensively, and he was a minus-10 in 11 minutes.

Robin Lopez was huge off the bench, though, going for a season-high 17 points (first time in double figures) on 8-of-10 shooting. RoLo soundly outplayed his brother, using his variety of crafty hooks to get buckets, including four big hoops in the fourth quarter to help keep the Bulls close.

But in the end, it just wasn’t quite enough to overcome The Greek Freak and co. Giannis was an absolute monster all night long, going for 36 points on 14-of-21 shooting with 11 rebounds and eight assists. The way he can get to wherever he wants on the floor despite a horrible long-range jumper is truly remarkable, and he was dunking almost whenever he pleased.

Brogdon added 24 big points thanks to hitting all six of his 3-point attempts. The point guard was the only Buck consistently hitting anything from outside, as the rest of the team went just 6-of-29. That includes a 1-of-11 mark from the bench and former Bull Tony Snell missing both of his attempts, though Snell still managed a plus-10 in 17 minutes despite doing almost nothing of consequence.

This was a tough-luck loss for the Bulls, but it also could be viewed as a best-case scenario if you’re into the whole “lose competitively for the draft pick” thing. The Bulls are now 5-17 on the season and have dug themselves in quite a hole before the cavalry returns in the next few weeks, when the wins should start coming with at least a little more regularity.

The Bulls head to Detroit Friday for the second of their four-game road trip.