Following a three game losing streak the Chicago Bulls flew to Milwaukee to play the Milwaukee Bucks, a team they normally beat but a team that held the same record as they did going into last night. The Bulls shook off the three game losing streak to beat the Bucks 93-86. Chicago seemed to address their problems with late game situations as Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy had this to say: “I’ve never seen anything like that. It was incredible tonight.” Now, Dunleavy was talking about Chicago’s ability to collect offensive boards but it can be applied to the entire night. Chicago dominated down the stretch and made a few key moves in the final minutes to keep their lead and secure a victory.
The biggest numbers came from Carlos Boozer who registered a double-double with 22 points and 19 rebounds, and Rip Hamilton who also dropped 22 points. These two players played extensive time periods on the floor and played the majority of the fourth quarter which is where Chicago needed the most help.
Despite only shooting 39 percent from the field and 25 percent from long range the Bulls played solid low post basketball and dominated their opponents on the offensive glass. They out rebounded Milwaukee 20-10 on the offensive end and many of those boards aided Boozer in his accumulating point total. Of Boozer’s 22 points, the majority of them came in the paint. He made his living down low putting in layups, tip ins, dunks and then threw in the occasional jumper to cap off a well balanced attack.
But it wasn’t just Boozer and Hamilton who helped Chicago seal in a victory. Down the stretch coach Tom Thibodeau opted to substitute in Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler for key stretches in the fourth quarter. These substitutions helped hold Milwaukee to 32 percent shooting from the field and stop any attempt at a comeback.
In the last several games Chicago has struggled late in the fourth quarter, but last night they seemed to put all the pieces together. While it may be to early for them to say they fixed their troubles, last night the players and the coach demonstrated a well executed plan on how to close out games successfully.