Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
MILWAUKEE --- The Chicago Bulls' four-game win streak ended Monday night at Fiserv Forum following a 133-129 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
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Here are 10 observations:
---DeMar DeRozan had a masterful game but struggled down the stretch, finishing with 41 points and 11 assists. After missing his first six shots in the fourth quarter and biting on Damian Lillard’s shot fake with 12 seconds left and fouling him, DeRozan scored with 3.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. But his shots came up short as he logged 40-plus minutes on the front end of a back-to-back set of games. This time, he looked to score and be aggressive with his shot early, which opened up his passing game late. He had one veteran recognition of a Nikola Vucevic mismatch in the fourth quarter in which he called for that side of the floor to clear out before feeding Vucevic, who scored on a goaltended shot. DeRozan assisted on six 3-pointers for teammates. It’s his third game in the last four with double-digit assists.
---Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t reach double figures until almost midway through the third quarter. Obviously, no one defender slows the two-time MVP. And Antetokounmpo did have six assists before he reached double figures. But Patrick Williams took one charge and overall followed his pregame strategy of “putting his body in play.” When asked what it’s like to guard Antetokounmpo, Williams said he couldn’t really explain it, that one just had to experience it.
Down the stretch, Antetokounmpo exerted his will, bullying his way to a huge three-point play with 3 minutes left for a five-point lead. He also sank his free throws, finishing 14-for-18 from the stripe as part of his 32-point, 18-rebound, six-assist night.
---With six 3-pointers, Coby White extended his franchise record of consecutive games with at least three 3-pointers to 11. White has sank 53 3-pointers in that stretch and now ranks in the top-five in the NBA in made 3-pointers. It’s a remarkable rise for a player who struggled from beyond the arc early this season. But the Bulls didn't utilize White's hot shooting night down the stretch. White didn't attempt a 3-pointer from the 1:36 mark of the fourth quarter until the final possession of overtime.
---Alex Caruso’s sprained left ankle is improving enough for him to warm up pregame, but he missed the contest, which is the first of a back-to-back set of games. Losing Caruso and his defensive work against such a talented offensive team was obviously a blow.
---With Caruso out, Ayo Dosunmu drew the start. The Bulls reverted to their slow start ways by trailing by 10 for the seventh double-digit deficit in the opening period this season. But following a Billy Donovan timeout, the Bulls responded with a 10-2 run. This has been more typical of late for the Bulls---a response to adverse moments. Nevertheless, Dosunmu’s slow start continued as he missed his first six shots and didn’t score.
---The Bulls struggled getting properly matched up in defensive transition on multiple occasions, especially early. Jevon Carter was matched against Robin Lopez one time. Ayo Dosunmu landed on Bobby Portis on another possession. The Bucks scored six fast-break points and 14 points in the paint as part of a 37-point first quarter.
---The Bulls also struggled defensively to control the 3-point line. Several of their closeouts were either poor or late and when they did execute them, players often closed out without getting a hand up to contest the shot. Obviously, Antetokounmpo demands so much attention---and often double-teams. But the Bulls were a step slow in allowing 74 first-half points, the highest points total allowed in a half all season.
The rotations became much crisper in the second half, particularly from Torrey Craig, who was everywhere defensively before fouling out. Craig took Caruso's role in the closing lineup.
---Dalen Terry packed plenty into a seven-minute, first-half rotational turn. He sank a 3-pointer and had an assist, block and foul. He also played solid positional defense on Antetokoumpo once and Khris Middleton another time, although Middleton scored on a tough bank shot to end that possession.
Terry’s strong minutes led Donovan to play him the first 4:39 of the fourth quarter. Terry had a wide-open look on a corner 3-pointer that would’ve given the Bulls their first lead of the game. But he missed it and Malik Beasley dunked it in transition at the other end for a four-point Bucks lead.
---The Bulls, who have been a low-turnover team all season, committed just six against the Bucks.
---At 41.2 percent, the Bulls shot exactly 10 percentage points lower than the Bucks and still had opportunities to steal a victory on the road.