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10 observations: Bulls lose their cool, game to Bucks

Nikola Vucevic ejected, DeMar DeRozan receives technical foul in last home game before 4-game trip

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

In their last home game before a four-game trip on the West Coast, the Chicago Bulls fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 113-97 on Friday night at the United Center.

Here are 10 observations:

---Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the NBA in points in the paint and scored 24 of his 46 points there on Friday. It's the most points that Antetokounmpo has scored against the Bulls in his career. He also had 16 rebounds and six assists.

---The Bucks frustrated the Bulls all night with their typically physical play. DeMar DeRozan lost his cool with 31.5 seconds left in the third, fouling Bobby Portis Jr. hard enough away from the ball that a minor scuffle ensued. As Patrick Beverley clapped and smiled and chirped at his former Bulls teammates and congratulated Portis Jr., DeRozan drew a technical foul. DeRozan’s foul then got upgraded to a flagrant foul following video review. The Bucks got three free throws---making two---and possession, missing a 3-pointer.

Then, with 9:27 left, Nikola Vucevic got ejected for a flagrant-two foul on AJ Green. Vucevic was frustrated after not getting a foul call on Portis Jr’s physical defense at the other end and leveled Green with no attempt at the ball. The Bucks scored 13 of their 17-0 run following Vucevic’s ejection.

Both Beverley and Portis Jr. played well against their former team, finishing with 14 and 11 points, respectively.

---DeRozan became the 35th player in NBA history to hit the 23,000-point mark. But it didn’t come easy. He finished with 12 points and nine assists on 5-for-13 shooting.

But DeRozan missed all six first half shots and didn’t score until sinking two free throws with 24.7 seconds left in the first half. DeRozan did have seven first-half assists but it was clear that Bucks coach Doc Rivers’ defensive strategy was to get the ball out of DeRozan’s hands. Pregame, Rivers joked about asking his son, Spencer, who’s an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons, how they tried to guard DeRozan. And Spencer Rivers told his father, “Don’t foul him.” To which Doc said: “I’m like, ‘Duh. We know that already.’” DeRozan sank his first field goal on the first possession of the second half, just 15 seconds after halftime.

---Onuralp Bitim followed his breakout NBA moment on Wednesday with six points and four rebounds. His best stretch came in the final seconds of the third quarter when he strongly contested a Damian Lillard miss and followed with a 3-pointer to send the Bulls into the fourth with a 10-point deficit.

Pregame, Bitim shared more endearing moments when he called his father being at Wednesday’s game “the best moment of my life.” Both of Bitim’s parents played professionally overseas, and Bitim left a successful career in Turkey merely to sign a two-way contract, which has since been converted a standard NBA deal.

“It was my biggest dream to play in the NBA,” Bitim said. “I always had that dream and believed in myself and my talent. It was a risk. But I think I gambled on myself. I rolled the dice. But it wasn’t gambling for me. I trusted the hard work and faith and God. Here we are.”

---Alex Caruso returned after missing one game with a sore hamstring, His reward? Guarding Antetokounmpo. One could almost hear the pregame conversation: “Alex, how’s the hamstring? Good? OK, can you guard Giannis and maybe Damian Lillard at times? OK, thanks.”

But seriously.

“We didn’t think it was anything too major. Just with him, you want to be cautious. He knows his body. He has been in the league for awhile and he communicates well,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s going to, more often than not, push to play. But he also understands that you don’t want to have a situation where it lingers.”

---Donovan went to his double-big lineup just 4 minutes, 7 seconds after tipoff, replacing Caruso with Andre Drummond. Caruso often takes a breather early, but Drummond coming in was a nod to the brawn of Antetokounmpo, whose shot he promptly blocked.

---Antetokounmpo leads the NBA in fast-break points and came out extremely aggressively. He attempted six free throws in the first 6:16 and scored 11 first-quarter points.

---Jae Crowder started for Khris Middleton, who sat with a sprained ankle. Crowder missed the first three games of this season series with injury and supplied his typically physical defense and timely shooting, beating the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer.

--- Beverley, whom the Bulls signed via buyout market last season, and Danilo Gallinari, whom the Bulls tried to sign in the buyout market this year, both played for the Bucks. Ayo Dosunmu blasted Beverley with a third-quarter screen, getting called for a foul with his physical approach.

---Donovan used a 10-man rotation, surprisingly using Terry Taylor along with spot minutes for Jevon Carter and Julian Phillips. Bitim and Drummond were the main substitutes. Carter logged just 3 minutes against his former team.

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