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In a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Chicago Bulls 118-112 on Friday at United Center to improve to 39-25 on the season.
Friday’s win marks Milwaukee’s third straight victory, and the Bucks have now defeated the Bulls in 10 of their last 11 meetings. If the two franchises were to meet in the playoffs, it certainly seems like the Bucks would have the upper hand.
However, it’s important to note the Bucks had somewhat of a big advantage over the Bulls on Friday thanks to two extra days of rest. Chicago, meanwhile, was playing in the second game of a back-to-back after Thursday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Jrue Holiday’s fourth-quarter performance helped seal the deal for the Bucks, who watched a 14-point lead slip away in the second half.
Jrue Holiday has been CLUTCH in Q4 for the @Bucks on ESPN!
14 PTS (6-8 FGM) in the fourth-quarter.@Bucks: 116@chicagobulls: 112
15 seconds remaining pic.twitter.com/thr4EfStG9
Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF, MIL: 34 PTS, 16 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK
Zach LaVine, SG, CHI: 30 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL
Jrue Holiday, PG, MIL: 26 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST
DeMar DeRozan, SF, CHI: 29 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK
Khris Middleton, SF, MIL: 22 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST
Nikola Vucevic, C, CHI: 19 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL
Jrue Holiday Helps Bucks Hold Off Bulls With Incredible Fourth Quarter
In a game where the Bucks saw a 14-point lead slip away, it was Holiday who put the team on his back with an incredible fourth-quarter performance to help the team hold off a strong push from the Bulls.
The veteran point guard put up 16 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 10 of 20 shooting from the field and three of six shooting from beyond the arc.
Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks
Jrue is cooking!! pic.twitter.com/GaqcBZDzGg
Holiday’s performance against Chicago should come as little surprise, especially given his performance in a comeback win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. He finished that game with 25 points, six rebounds and 11 assists. He also hit the game-winning shot with time expiring.
These types of performances by Holiday have become all too common this season. The 31-year-old is currently in the midst of his most efficient season in the NBA. Entering Friday’s game, he was shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 41.4 percent from deep.
It’s currently Holiday’s second straight season shooting at least 50 percent from the field. Before joining the Bucks for the 2020-21 campaign, the veteran had spent seven seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans. Considering he’s now working with players like Antetokounmpo and Middleton, it’s not surprising he’s become more efficient.
If Holiday can remain efficient through the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs, the Bucks will once again be one of the most feared teams in the Eastern Conference as opposing franchises look to take down the reigning champions.
Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan Need More Help From Supporting Cast
LaVine and DeRozan have been one of the most feared duos in the NBA this season. However, they were unable to power the Bulls to victory in the second half of a back-to-back Friday.
LaVine finished with 30 points on 13-of-26 shooting from the floor and three-of-10 shooting from deep. DeRozan, meanwhile, struggled from the floor, making just 11 of 30 shots, though he made two of three shots from deep and finished with 29 points.
Chicago Bulls @chicagobulls
Zach going to work.@NBCSChicago | @ZachLaVine pic.twitter.com/bfZusiMFL9
Chicago Bulls @chicagobulls
Zach to the rack in crunch time!@NBCSChicago | @ZachLaVine pic.twitter.com/oirznuhZkT
Bulls Talk @NBCSBulls
DeMar nails the 4-point play 🩸 pic.twitter.com/MSkSnWkoSL
The duo of LaVine and DeRozan have now scored at least 25 points in the same game 20 times this season to pass Michael Jordan & Orlando Woolridge for the most by a duo in Bulls’ history.
This stat alone highlights just how impactful LaVine and DeRozan have been this season. However, if Chicago wants to win another NBA title, those two players are going to need more help from their supporting cast.
Vucevic has been mostly fine this season. He entered Friday’s game averaging 17.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. However, players like Ayo Dosunmu, Tristan Thompson, Coby White and Javonte Green need to create more shots and plays for themselves and others if the Bulls hope to find success down the road.
For comparison, the Bucks are mostly able to turn to any player to step up in crunch time. Aside from Antetokounmpo and Holiday, the team can look to Middleton, Bobby Portis and even Grayson Allen for some extra juice when needed.
Luckily for the Bulls, some of those players will see less time on the court once Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, two key contributors, return from injury.
The Bucks will host the Phoenix Suns at Fiserv Forum on Sunday, while the Bulls will travel to face the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
original source: Giannis Posts 34 and 16 as Bucks Outlast Demar Derozan, Bulls for 3rd Straight Win