MILWAUKEE — This just in: The personal battle between Nate Robinson and Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings didn’t end Jan. 9.
The last time the Bulls met the Bucks, Jennings mocked Robinson’s “flaps down” 3-point celebration, then later claimed Robinson’s antics got him going when these teams met at the United Center earlier this month. Jennings responded by dropping 35 points in a 104-96 Bulls loss.
In Wednesday night’s rematch at the Bradley Center, Robinson might have out-Nated himself. Both excitable and explosive, sometimes to a fault, Robinson pushed all of his positive qualities during a 16-point second quarter.
Robinson hit 9 of 11 shots from the field overall and finished with 24 points. Jimmy Butler saluted his college town by adding 18, and the Bulls rolled to an impressive 104-88 victory.
Carlos Boozer missed the game with a sore right hamstring. Taj Gibson started in his place and scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
Late in the fourth quarter, Jennings’ frustration became apparent when he was whistled for an offensive foul against Robinson. Jennings immediately got in the face of referee Derrick Stafford and was ejected.
After the game, Robinson took no credit for getting the best of Jennings or crawling under his skin.
“Our team did. It wasn’t just me,” Robinson said. “That’s a clean play. I took a charge and (he) pushed off. I don’t know about all the extra stuff. That’s on him.
“Us as a team, we played Chicago Bulls defense and we went out there and we won.”
Butler, whose college home court was the Bradley Center while playing at Marquette, was willing to state the obvious on the other side of the locker room.
“Nate took it as disrespect last time at home when he was doing Nate’s celebration,” Butler said. “I don’t think Nathaniel Cornelius Robinson liked that too much. I think Nate got the best of him in this one, got him extremely frustrated.”
Robinson’s first in-game dunk in two years, off a pass from Luol Deng, had everyone buzzing in the locker room. It was Robinson’s last basket of the second quarter and gave the Bulls a 53-35 advantage.
“It’s crazy because two games ago, maybe last game, him and Rip (Hamilton) made a bet who was going to dunk first,” Butler said. “If you were watching that play and saw him gather off one leg, you’d think he’s going to lay it up. When he dunked, it was like, I didn’t even know what to say.”
Robinson claimed it was just the second dunk of his NBA career that came off one foot. He also claimed Hamilton owes him 100 fingertip push-ups to pay off the bet.
“My fans even ask me when I’m going to dunk again, so hopefully they’ll get off my back now that they’ve seen me dunk,” Robinson said. “I won’t have to dunk no more the rest of the season.”
Teammate Joakim Noah volunteered that he now owes Robinson some money, thanks to the dunk.
“Joakim? Tell him to pay up,” Robinson said when told of Noah’s admission. “I didn’t even know that. Tell him to pay up, then. I’ll take lunch over money. Take me to lunch.”
Milwaukee played without center Larry Sanders, the NBA leader in blocked shots, and that loss was significant. In the last meeting, Sanders piled up 7 blocked shots, and the Bulls had a tough time scoring in the paint.
On Wednesday, with Sanders out sick, the Bulls piled up a whopping 66 points in the paint.
The Bulls (28-17) tied an NBA record with their 41st straight win while scoring at least 100 points. San Antonio set that mark from 2003-05.
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