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News » BULLS 83, BUCKS 81 Hopes Deng-blasted Sizzling Jennings' 25 points not enough

BULLS 83, BUCKS 81 Hopes Deng-blasted Sizzling Jennings' 25 points not enough

BULLS 83, BUCKS 81  Hopes Deng-blasted  Sizzling Jennings' 25 points not enough By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Chicago - A great start for the Milwaukee Bucks had them thinking about finally getting an elusive victory at the United Center.

But forward Luol Deng and point guard Derrick Rose paced a second-half comeback as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Bucks , 83-81, on Tuesday night. The Bulls rallied from an 18-point third-quarter deficit but had to hold on in the final seconds, when the Bucks fizzled on their last possession.

Backup forward Ersan Ilyasova was forced far beyond the three-point line and launched an airball with 3 seconds left, allowing the Bulls to beat the Bucks for the eighth consecutive time at the United Center.

It was a tough one for the Bucks (1-2) to digest after they got another sterling effort from rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, who scored a team-high 25 points.

And the Bucks limited the Bulls to 29 points in the first half while dominating much of the game against their Central Division rivals.

"We look like the best defensive team in the world when we're making shots," Bucks center Andrew Bogut said. "When we're not making them, we look like the worst defensive team.

"Our rotations were bad in the second half, and we weren't keeping the ball out of the paint. We played very, very well for about 35 minutes. But in the NBA, there's 48 minutes. They put in a hell of an effort, and they deserved the win because they fought hard."

Deng finished with 24 points and a career-high 20 rebounds for the Bulls (2-2), and Rose scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Rose also made a huge play with 14 seconds left when he blocked a potential game-tying shot by Jennings.

"I think I should have backed it up and got something else, but hey, he got the deflection," Jennings said.

Bogut quickly fouled Bulls center Joakim Noah after Rose's block, and Noah missed two free throws to give the Bucks a final chance.

But Ilyasova hesitated before firing up his wayward three-point try.

"That's not a shot we want to take right there," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "It looked like he was determined to shoot a three.

"Brandon had a little trouble getting it to him. We had plenty of time. We had the side clear with a shooter in the corner. If it's wide open, we'll take it (the three) for sure. It wasn't open."

The game turned in the third quarter when the Bulls put on a full-court press that the Bucks had trouble handling. Chicago was able to trim a 14-point halftime deficit to 60-56 entering the fourth quarter.

"There's no question their pressure bothered us," Skiles said. "We got a little wide-eyed, and we weren't getting to our spots on the offensive end. I'm going to look at the tape, and I'm going to see a lot of shots just missed.

"We've got to start making them."

The Bucks hit 39.6% in the game (36 of 91) and just 33% in the final quarter (9 of 27).

Deng bubbled with energy and had nine of his points in the third quarter, including a three-pointer at the buzzer.

"He was killing us," Bucks guard Charlie Bell said. "We've got to get a little tougher. We can't let guys go out and grab 20 rebounds. We've got to play more aggressive.

"Some type of way we've got to come out with this win."

The Bulls took their first lead of the game at 71-68 on a three-pointer by Jannero Pargo with 6:05 remaining, and they stayed in command despite a late push led by Jennings.

The 20-year-old point guard hit 10 of 23 shots and also had four assists and two steals in 38 minutes.

Bogut added a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Hakim Warrick had 11 points and 10 rebounds in a starting role. Bell added 11 points and five rebounds.

"He is still learning how to play hard for long stretches," Skiles said of Jennings. "He's in good shape, but it's learning to play in the NBA now. It's very physical with the hits and the picks out there."

Bogut said the Bucks' confidence sagged as the Bulls mounted their steady comeback in the second half.

"That's the problem when you're a young team like we are," Bogut said. "You don't know how to win, and you know how to lose.

"We need to go to practice and work on it. This whole month we can get some victories, but we're not looking further than Minnesota now."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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