Jim Boylan made a deft prediction before facing the Bulls on Wednesday night, his second game as Milwaukee's head coach.
"Kirk (Hinrich's) out. That's a huge factor for them," he said. "The pressure he applies to Brandon (Jennings) in the backcourt is significant."
Hinrich's absence due to a lacerated right elbow wasn't a factor early when his replacement, Nate Robinson, scored 13 points in the first quarter and the Bulls opened an early 24-9 lead.
But Jennings kept on coming. He scored 10 points in the final 7:34 of the second quarter, added 20 points in the third, and finished with 35. The Bucks stunned the Bulls for the second time at the United Center this season, winning 104-96.
"If you don't play with great intensity, particularly when you have people out, you're not going to give yourself a chance to win," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We wanted to make it a 'You shoot, I shoot' type of game.
"You're not going anywhere like that."
Robinson's early hot streak might have played a hand in the Bulls' downfall. When Jennings got going in the second half, he often mimicked Robinson's jet plane imitation after hitting big shots.
"Yeah, a little trash talking before the second half," Jennings said after donning a Led Zeppelin T-shirt in the Milwaukee locker room. "I guess he felt like he had it going, was getting the best of me.
"I really don't take trash-talking too kindly because I don't do a lot of trash talking. I warned him. It happens."
Down the hall, Robinson denied delivering any sort of excessive trash talk.
"No, it happens all the time," he said. "A couple little dirty plays exchanged, but nothing to complain about. It's basketball."
Boylan, who improved to 2-0 as head coach of the Bucks, laughed off the point-guard exchange.
"I don't know if it set (Jennings) off," he said. "Two guys that like to talk a lot. You put them in a room together, something's going to happen. Nate had it going in the first half. Brandon, sometimes that gets his motor going a little bit. He kind of went back at him. They'll do it again another time."
Thibodeau wasn't happy with much of anything the Bulls did, but he refused to single out Robinson for any criticism.
"It's a competitive game. Some guys do it and they're fine," he said. "To me, if you do it and that's the way you are and you're not distracted … I prefer just to concentrate on doing your job.
"There were a lot of things we could have done better. We have to make the necessary corrections and be ready for New York (on Friday)."
Another huge factor for Milwaukee (18-16) was center Larry Sanders, who collected 7 of his team's 15 blocked shots.
Trailing 81-80 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulls missed their first 7 shots as the Bucks opened an 86-80 advantage. The Bulls never did recover but closed within 92-91 with 4:22 left on a pullup jumper by Robinson.
Mike Dunleavy answered with a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 4 points. After a pair of free throws by Jimmy Butler, the Bulls missed two chances to tie the score. Then they lost track of Dunleavy and he buried another 3-pointer to give the Bucks a 98-93 lead with 2:51 remaining.
Carlos Boozer's putback cut it to 3 before Ersan Ilyasova hit a jumper for Milwaukee. Trailing by 4 points with just more than a minute left, Marco Belinelli missed an open 3-pointer. Jennings essentially put the game away with a runner in the lane with 24.6 seconds on the clock.
Boozer posted his sixth straight double-double, finishing with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Robinson finished with 19 points, and Luol Deng had 18.