Big Three continues to fade away as Bulls lose in Milwaukee

Competing against the Milwaukee Bucks is challenging under normal circumstances, but the schedule did the Bulls no favors this time.

The Bulls played the second leg of back-to-back games Monday at Fiserv Forum, while the Bucks had Sunday off. After scoring 29 points in the win over Detroit, DeMar DeRozan, 34, summed up his feelings.

"I'll be lying to you if I tell you I wake up every morning feeling like a spring chicken," he said, while nearby teammates burst into laughter. "I figure it out."

So the question heading into this one was whether the Bulls would write this game off as a schedule loss or actually compete with the Bucks.

The answer was a little bit of both. The Bulls fell behind by 17 points after one quarter, rallied to take a lead midway through the third, before fading late and losing 118-109. Next up for the Bulls (4-7) are four straight home games against the Florida teams, starting with Orlando on Wednesday.

DeRozan also made a declaration about the state of the Bulls after Sunday's game at the United Center.

"On the outside, a lot of people will look at it like it's a lot of chaos, the whole team meeting thing and everything," said DeRozan, referring to the opening night loss to Oklahoma City and its aftermath.

"Every guy in this locker room want to win. Everybody wants the best for one another. It's just about us honing in and finding that balance of bringing it every single night."

One thing that's been clear so far this season is the Bulls can't rely on the perceived Big Three to carry them to wins. They need to keep building depth and get contributions from more players.

Against Milwaukee, Nikola Vucevic had his usual nice game against Brook Lopez. Vucevic led the Bulls with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

DeRozan and Zach LaVine were ice cold for most of the night. DeRozan had a really nice spinning assist to Coby White for a 3, but hit just 3 of 14 shots for 11 points, to go with a team-high 7 assists.

LaVine finished with 20 points, but was just 1 of 13 from the field until knocking down a 3 from the top of the key with 5:19 left in the game. White scored 16, while Patrick Williams hit 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range for 13 points. Jevon Carter scored 6 points in 14 minutes in the first game against his former team.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the game, finishing with 35 points and 11 rebounds. Former Bull Bobby Portis added 19 points and 10 boards off the bench.

The Bulls play against Milwaukee so often, including a playoff series in 2022, they should at least know the strategy for slowing down Antetokounmpo. It's important to build a wall with multiple players and maintain good defensive position, because more often than not, he will just barrel down the lane looking to create contact.

Once he gets a head of steam with that huge body, it's tough to do anything against Antetokounmpo. That's why it's imperative to follow the plan and the Bulls didn't do much of that all game long. It seemed like no one was anxious to step into the Greek Freak's path.

Bulls guard Alex Caruso missed his second straight game with a left toe sprain. Milwaukee newcomer Damian Lillard had a quiet night, scoring 12 points after sitting out the previous two games with a right calf injury.

According to Bulls PR, the team has the fewest turnovers through the first 10 games of the season since it became an official NBA stat in 1973-74. That speaks well for White, who has taken over the starting point guard role for the second time in his career.

The final box had the Bulls with just 8 turnovers in Monday's game, and 5 of those happened in the first quarter.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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