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Chicago Bulls fall apart with narrow 16-point loss to Milwaukee Bucks


The Chicago Bulls went on a 16-point burst in the second half of their 113-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, giving up numerous technical and flagrant fouls.

It was always going to be a competitive game. The United Center is sold out for a late-night special event, including Milwaukee Bucks fans. And the opposing squad was full of familiar faces (Patrick Beverley and Bobby Portis) that were sure to irritate fans and players alike.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said he could sense the growing discontent in the first quarter and warned referees to keep the physicality under control to avoid unnecessary fouls. But the game remained tense until the final 31 seconds of the third quarter, when the Bulls lost control and the game in the process.

The collapse started when DeMar DeRozan took offense to Portis glaring at him after the play. It was a brief moment, but it was enough to prompt immediate reaction from DeRozan, who raised his voice during a night of basketball action.

DeRozan lunged at Portis in the open field and slammed into the forward. The foul resulted in a flagrant violation, and DeRozan’s ensuing altercation resulted in a technical foul.

“As long as I play the game, I have great respect.” DeRozan said. “I’m not playing all the games, I’m not patronizing anyone, I’m not trying to disrespect anyone. I’m all for competing, doing your job, but if I feel like anything is disrespectful, I won’t accept it.

“I wouldn’t do this to anyone else. It’s just out of respect for the game.”

The break between quarters could have cooled relations between the two teams. Instead, tension escalated over the next three minutes of game time.

Alex Caruso received a technical foul for arguing with the referees in the first 70 seconds of the fourth quarter. And 90 seconds later Nikola Vučević took out his anger on AJ Green, flailing his hands at the Bucks guard as he attempted a layup, earning a flagrant 2 foul and ejection.

At that point it was over for the Bulls. They were already struggling against the surprising size of the Bucks, whose frontcourt was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. With Vučević dismissed, the Bulls There’s little time left to slow down the attack in the paint.

“It was just a little disappointment,” Vučević said. “It’s not just the lack of a call, it’s because we played a bit of a tough game. It was very tough. We felt like we did some great things. We let our frustrations get to us for a while.”

Here are three takeaways from the defeat.

1. Patrick Beverley acts as an instigator

There are few things more consistent than Beverley’s presence at the beginning and end of an on-field contest.

old bull DeRozan’s cover on defense and chirping at opponents on every dead ball helped create frustration in the second half.

Bucks’ Patrick Beverley celebrates a basket against Julian Phillips in the second half on March 1, 2024. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP photo)

After scoring eight consecutive points in the fourth quarter following a technical and ejection, he turned to Bulls fans and shouted “This is my city” as he walked toward the Bucks bench. Beverley loudly applauded every foul called against the Bulls and made the “too small” gesture to rookie Julian Phillips on back-to-back games.

“We know him,” DeRozan said after the loss. “This is Pat. We let our own frustration take over everything. “It seemed like we were directing it to one person in particular on his team and feeling like we weren’t getting good calls.”

2. Shots remain static

The Bulls aren’t much of a three-point shooting team, but improvements in consistency from players like Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have helped close the offensive margins this season. However, those improvements stalled as the Bulls struggled with a drop in shooting after the All-Star break.

Friday’s performance was a slight step forward, with the Bulls going 11-for-27 from 3-point range; White was 2-for-5 and Caruso shot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. However, the Bulls are still performing below the pre-All Star three-point per game average of 11.8 points.

3. A decreasing turning point

It was a night to forget for DeRozan, who has shown signs of wear as he has played more minutes than any other player besides White in the NBA this season. He finished with 12 points and nine assists and waited for much-needed rest for most of the fourth quarter.

But the game also featured a little storyline for DeRozan, who became the 35th player in NBA history to reach 23,000 career points. He is one of only six active players to reach this milestone.


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