Wed. Final: Bucks 97, Bulls 90
By Todd Welter
Next game: Friday, December 5 vs. Charlotte
The walking wounded can best describe the Bucks start to the season.
The Bucks lost leading scorer Michael Redd for 14 games because of an ankle injury. Key starters and role players all have missed a few games with various injuries as well. Add in a lot of road games and it has been a tough go for Milwaukee in the infancy of this season.
The Bucks got a rare chance to have all five starters on the court at the same time against the Chicago Bulls. While they did not play a whole bunch of minutes together because Andrew Bogut left the game with a migraine, the bench came through in a big way to pull out a 97-90 victory over the Bulls.
Milwaukee's bench provided 40 points as Villanueva was the majority scorer with a season-high 23 points along with 10 rebounds. Dan Gadzuric added a double-double of his own with 11 points and 14 rebounds that helped snap the Bucks' four-game losing streak. Jefferson represented the starters in the contribution to this win with 21 points.
Bogut returned to the lineup after missing three games with a bone bruise on his left knee. He left the game in the third quarter after being struck in the face. Bucks head coach Scott Skiles explained that the strike to the face triggered a migraine and it become so severe that Bogut had to be sent home. Gadzuric's solid play off the bench softened the blow of Bogut's absence.
"Danny G. came off the bench and really picked us up," Skiles said. "I feel Danny has had a good year. He has played with energy almost every game. He has done something productive almost every game. When Andrew went out, he stepped in and did an okay job. I'm comfortable with Danny out there."
Gadzuric's double-double was his second in the last five games.
"He's been playing really well and we knew he had the potential to play like that," Redd felt. "If we can see that on a consistent basis that would be great."
The Bucks found themselves down 20-19 after the first quarter but opened up the second quarter with a 15-3 run to go ahead by 11. The Bucks would enjoy a double-digit lead through most of the second and finished the first half ahead 54-42.
Redd buried a 15-foot jumper with 6:31 in the third that gave the Bucks a 15 point lead. That large lead would be short lived as the Bulls went on a 12-2 run to cut the lead down to three with 1:54 to go in the quarter. Ben Gordon was a big reason for the Bulls comeback as he scored 15 points during the third quarter. He buried two straight baskets to end the third that left the Bucks with a 76-72 lead heading into the game's final 12 minutes.
Gordon was not much of a factor in the fourth quarter as Luc Mbah a Moute shut down the lethal scorer. Coach Skiles made the key decision to go with the rookie defensive specialist to start the quarter and it worked perfectly as Gordon scored just two points. Gordon ended his night with a team-high 22 points.
"Luc's length was a factor on him," Skiles explained. "He chased him hard. There are times when Ben Gordon gets it going when there is almost nothing you can do. I've seen it many times. He just gets into a zone like that and he is very difficult to cover. We were just able to stop him a couple times."
The Bucks opened up the fourth with six straight points to push the lead back up to 10 with 9:15 remaining. Villanueva then went off for nine straight points that put Milwaukee up 91-77 with 5:45 left.
The Bulls closed the gap to five with one minute left but Gadzuric made a layup with 14 seconds that secured the Bucks' (8-12) eighth win of the season.