Mirotic, Dunn lead Chicago Bulls to another win in Milwaukee
Remember all those quick, "heat-check" style 3-pointers Nikola Mirotic tossed up during his first three seasons with the Chicago Bulls?
Tuesday night's game in Milwaukee was a chance to see what happens if Mirotic is as hot from long range as he thinks he is.
Mirotic scored 24 points, including 3 rapid-fire 3-point baskets in the second half, as the Bulls won at Milwaukee for the second time in 11 days, beating the Bucks 115-106 at the Bradley Center.
Kris Dunn also had a big game, with 20 points and 12 assists. Dunn was ejected in the final minute after a skirmish with Bucks guard Khris Middleton.
Dunn was guarding Middleton and appeared to get annoyed after he was struck in the face by an elbow. Dunn wrestled Middleton to the floor, but no punches were thrown before teammates separated the two.
It did not appear that Middleton's elbow was intentional or flagrant, so this tussle shouldn't draw any serious attention from the league office.
With 8 wins in their last 10 games, the Bulls (11-22) are back in action Wednesday against New York at the United Center.
"Kris did a good job. He didn't settle," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters after the game. "I thought he did a good job attacking and getting into the paint and had really good finishes. He had a couple games where he struggled at the rim. Got there, he just didn't finish.
"But tonight did a really good job of concentrating, slowing down, getting his balance right and finished strong at the rim. That was obviously a big key for us."
The Bucks (17-15) have lost five of seven games. Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 28 points, but just like in the last meeting, he wasn't much of a factor in the fourth quarter.
Hoiberg continued to use David Nwaba as his defensive stopper, even though he stands about 7 inches shorter than Antetokounmpo.
"David's not going to back down from anybody," Hoiberg said. "We love what he's brought to our team."
The game was tied at 83-83 heading into the fourth quarter. After Malcolm Brogdon's alley-oop lay-in from Matthew Dellavedova gave Milwaukee a lead, Mirotic buried a long, quick 3-pointer that put the Bulls ahead to stay with 10:59 remaining.
Mirotic's next 3-pointer sent the Bulls ahead 103-94 with 4:54 left. Dunn put the star on the tree when he drove past Antetokounmpo, split Bledsoe and ex-Bull Tony Snell and finished a left-handed bank shot to make it 105-97.
Mirotic is averaging 18.5 points and shooting 48.3 percent from 3-point range since returning from facial fractures. He went 4-for-8 from long range Tuesday.
This was a great night for the Bulls' bench, and rookie Lauri Markkanen stayed on the bench in the fourth quarter. Markkanen scored just 3 points and hit 1 of 7 shots.
"The one decision I almost made, Bobby (Portis) was sucking all the oxygen out of the gym. He was getting a little bit winded out there," Hoiberg said. "We almost went back to (Markkanen). You just looked at the way Bobby and Niko were playing together out there, we had a really nice rhythm going on the offensive end."
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls
Radio: WLS 890-AM
Outlook: The Knicks are one of the league's worst road teams with a 2-10 record. They lost at home on Christmas Day to Philadelphia and have dropped three of their last four games. Seven-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis (24.6 points) missed a couple of games with a sore knee but has played in the last three. Second-leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr. is still out with a stress injury in his leg. C Enes Kanter is enjoying his change of scenery, averaging 14.1 points and 10.4 rebounds. The Bulls beat New York 104-102 at the United Center on Dec. 9. The Bulls blew a late lead in that one but won it on Kris Dunn's free throws with 2.9 seconds left. Porzingis scored 23 points for the Knicks that night, while Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with 19. New York is 2-10 in its last 12 visits to the UC.
Next: Indiana Pacers at the United Center, 7 p.m. Friday
-- Mike McGraw