Protecting Their House

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 9, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — If there ever was a good time for Chicago to steal a win on the road, it was on Friday at the Bradley Center. They have to try again Saturday at home against Minnesota after losing to Milwaukee 96-93.

The Bulls were half a game behind the Bucks for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 14-19 record. The Bucks entered the game at 14-18.

And the pressure seems to mount on Chicago head coach Vinny Del Negro. Some of the players on the team didn’t know their roles earlier in the season. There were some complaints about playing time.

Guards Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, forwards Luol Deng and Taj Gibson and center Joakim Noah was the fourth different lineup Del Negro used this season. The Bulls are now 4-3 with that lineup.

Almost everyone in Chicago knew that it was a matter of time before Del Negro would be fired. Some of them thought he would be gone by Christmas, but he’s still around. If he was fired, do you think assistant coach Pete Myers would take over that poisonous team on an interim basis?

If former Chicago and current Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles wasn’t good enough to stay in the Windy City, who else would be qualified to coach that team other than Phil Jackson?

Anyway, the Bulls were on a two-game losing streak after beating Orlando at home Jan. 2. Make it three straight losses in a row. They lead the all-time series against the Bucks 109-102.

The previous two contests between Chicago and Milwaukee were decided by a total of four points. The Bulls won 83-81, Nov. 3, at home. The Bucks took a 99-97 home victory, Nov. 30.

Chicago (14-20) trailed 29-19 after one quarter. They cut the Bucks’ double-digit lead to 8 at 42-34 with 2 minutes 29 seconds left in the half. John Salmons’ 3-pointer from the right corner before the buzzer reduced the halftime deficit to 47-41.

In the third quarter, the game was tied at 51 after a drive and basket down the middle by Rose. He had 19 points late in the quarter.

The Bulls led 64-61 until Milwaukee guard Luke Ridnour’s 3-point half court shot went in. The game was tied again at 64.

In the fourth quarter, both teams played more aggressively. And it showed early in the quarter. With 10:12 left, all hell broke loose.

Hinrich drove to the middle and was fouled by Ridnour. Hinrich went after Milwaukee forward Hakim Warrick. After some pushing and shoving, which included center Andrew Bogut and Chicago forward Tyrus Thomas, the officials stopped the action.

After the dust settled, Ridnour and Hinrich were charged with double fouls. Bogut, Warrick, Hinrich and Thomas received technical fouls.

The Bulls turned their frustrations into a 79-75 lead with 5:57 remaining in regulation. Milwaukee (15-18) regained momentum after a foul by Noah. He was given a technical foul for disputing the call with an official. Redd’s free-throw made the score 80-79, Milwaukee.

A layup by Bogut with 3:02 left gave Milwaukee an 88-80 advantage. Chicago kept within striking distance down the stretch.

The Bulls trailed 93-91 when Rose was called for an offensive foul with 33.4 seconds left.

“We fought our way back, and Derrick got called for that charge,” Del Negro said. “It looked like Bogut was moving. That was a tough call on us.”

Added Rose: “I thought (Bogut) was moving on the last one. We gotta go with whatever the ref said. And they said it was an offensive charge. That’s what we have to go with.”

Warrick’s dunk gave Milwaukee a 95-91 lead. Rose’s layup with 8.5 seconds remaining made it 95-93. Redd, who finished with 24 points, was fouled and made one of his two free throws for the final outcome.

Bogut led all scorers with 27 points. Rose’s 25 points led Chicago.