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Bulls vs. Bucks final score: Chicago’s late rally falls short in 112-99 loss

that’s 11 straight home losses

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls competed well with the Bucks for three out of four halves in Milwaukee earlier this season, and Monday’s game at the United Center continued that trend of Chicago surprisingly sticking close with one of the league’s most dominant teams. The Bulls stayed within striking distance of the Bucks all night and used an 11-0 run late in the fourth quarter to trim a 14-point deficit down to three, but Milwaukee answered with a 12-0 run of its own to secure a 112-99 victory. The Bulls have now lost a franchise-record 11 games in a row at home and also ended their 18-game streak of scoring 100 points.

While the Bulls hung around all game, they really didn’t play all that well outside of a few stellar individual performances. They shot under 39 percent from the field as Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn combined to shoot just 7-of-30. Markkanen did put up big counting stats with 20 points, 17 rebounds, three assists and two steals, but he was the victim of a handful of missed bunnies, plus a couple nasty rejections by Brook Lopez (with the help of Giannis Antetokounmpo on one of them) at the rim on the same possession.

Dunn was just mostly terrible with two points on 1-of-9 shooting to go with six assists. The point guard had an injury scare after a hard fall on his ass left him writhing on the ground in pain for a while in the third quarter, but for some reason he tried playing not only immediately after that but later in the fourth quarter after spending some time in the locker room. He doesn’t expect to miss time.

(Sidebar: I found it interesting that Stacey King didn’t even mention Dunn’s name during a discussion about the Bulls’ core, which seems to echo John Paxson’s recent lack of public support for the guard.)

The Bulls did get nice performances from Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr. and Robin Lopez. LaVine led the way with an efficient 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting and 4-of-6 from 3-land. He added seven assists and five rebounds as part of a nice all-around game, which featured plenty of difficult shots to help keep the Bulls in it throughout the night.

Porter had 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting (2-of-4 from 3), seven rebounds and four assists. He showed some nifty playmaking work and took advantage of some nice screens from Lopez, who continues to shine. The veteran big man played 33 minutes and poured in 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including several big buckets in the fourth quarter as the Bulls made their big push back into the game.

With Lopez getting big minutes and Jim Boylen opting to use super-small reserve lineups with Porter at center, Cristiano Felicio didn’t even get off the bench for this one. Maybe not the most surprising thing given the matchup, but not a good sign nonetheless. The Bulls’ bench got wrecked anyway.

The real star of the show, though, was Giannis. The Greek Freak absolutely dominated this game in his 35 minutes, going for 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting (even two triples), 17 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks. He was all over the court on both ends of the floor and imposing his will on the game, with poor Lauri the victim of several of his aggressive forays to the basket. While Giannis is a member of the opposition, it’s still a treat to watch a player who can single-handedly take over a basketball game so thoroughly. The Bucks outscored the Bulls by 21 points in Antetokounmpo’s time on the floor.

The Bucks needed Giannis to dominate, because they were largely awful otherwise. They started really slow and needed noted Bulls killer Ersan Ilyasova to get them out of their early-game malaise. Milwaukee struggled from beyond the arc for much of the night (12-of-38) and turned it over 17 times, leading to 19 Bulls points. While Antetokounmpo had six of those turnovers, he didn’t have any of the three straight turnovers during the Bulls’ late 11-0 run in the fourth quarter. The Bucks going on a run and then letting the Bulls back in it with sloppy play and bricked jumpers was kind of a theme of the night.

Eric Bledsoe finally had enough of the Bulls, though, scoring eight of the 12 points during the Bucks’ game-deciding 12-0 run, including a pair of 3-pointers. The Bulls melted down a bit offensively after whittling that deficit back to three, with LaVine missing a pair of tough shots, Porter forcing a bad shot and then turning it over after corralling the rebound, and Dunn turning it over as well. Jim Boylen ran out of timeouts with 6:51 remaining.

The Bulls are now 13-44 with one game left before the All-Star break. It’s a very winnable one at home against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.