The Milwaukee Bucks pushed the hardest they could and still lost. The Chicago Bulls overcame huge deficits to come away with a 113-106 double overtime win and moving up to 3-0 in the series, getting the kind of performance from Derrick Rose they’ve been dreaming of since he began his comeback.
The Bulls managed to come back from an 18-point deficit. They were down 49-31 in the second quarter, but closed the half on an 18-4 run, and carried on the good work in the second half, opening a 10-point lead after a 3-pointer from Tony Snell (94-84) with 2:50 remaining. The Bucks took control, and scored 11 consecutive points, most of them by Khris Middleton (18 overall) to give Milwaukee a 1 point lead with 10 seconds remaining.
Too hot to handle, Rose attacked the basket and drew the foul. He made only 1-of-2, which left the Bucks with 4.2 seconds to try and win the game, but Middleton missed his shot, sending the game to overtime. The teams scored a total of 12 points in the first overtime, as Butler missed a shot that could have won the game, while O.J. Mayo did the same with an air ball on the other end.
There, it seemed like the Bucks ran out of ideas. The Bulls scored 12 consecutive points to start the second overtime, including more from Rose who ended up with 34 points on 48 minutes, including going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, and we mean way beyond the line. He also added 8 assists and 3 steals in his best performance of the postseason when the Bulls needed him the most.
Without Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls limited their use of the bench to mostly Taj Gibson and Snell, who surprised with 16 points on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. The Bulls had a very good day from long range with 42.4% from downtown. They were actually weaker in the paint, allowing 17 offensive rebounds, struggling to contain the length of Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson, grabbing six offensive rebounds each.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 25 points, followed by Michael Carter-Williams with 19 and Middleton with his 18. Henson finished with 15 points and 14 boards in 39 minutes, as it was mostly the bench unit that got things going for the Bucks. However, when it came down to a game of one or two players rising above to decide the game, the Bucks didn’t have anyone good enough to make that switch into a higher gear.
This isn’t basketball that will win championships for the Bulls, but there’s a connecting thread in these playoffs. All series except one (Clippers and Spurs) seem to be going in one direction. However, with the exclusion of the Grizzlies dominating the Blazers, no wins are coming easy. The Bulls aren’t the type of team to run over opponents, especially not physical teams like the Bucks, who have the ability to make things difficult for anyone.
One thing the Bulls should pay special attention to is how Joakim Noah seems almost afraid to shoot the ball now. Sure, Pau Gasol was brought over to take over the offensive load in the paint, but Noah scored just two points on 1-of-5 from the field, playing 46 minutes. He’s averaging just 4.7 points in this series, and although there are a lot of other things he does, having a player that defenses don’t pay attention to doesn’t get you very far.