Chicago Bulls clang their long-shot chance of beating Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- The Bulls never had much chance to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks, who are on pace to become the third team in NBA history to win 70 games in a season.
The Bulls weren't blown out, but weren't real competitive, either, in a 111-98 loss Monday at Fiserv Forum. The best news for the Bulls was that this is the end of the season series, with the Bucks completing a 4-0 sweep for the second straight year.
This game featured another scoreless second half for Lauri Markkanen -- his second in the last three games. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 24 points, but the Bulls shot just 37 percent from the field. They attempted a season-high 48 shots from 3-point range, making just 14.
Coach Jim Boylen said the game plan was to fire away from behind the arc, but the long ball wasn't a winning formula in this game.
"In their six losses, teams have shot an average of 40 3s and made 17½," Boylen said. "We were on pace to do that in the first half. Second half we didn't shoot it as well. That was pretty much our game plan. We kept them under their free-throw attempts, we kept them under their 3-point attempts. I think our game plan to play against them was solid. We needed to make a few more of those open shots."
The Bucks like to pack the paint and make teams shoot over the top of 7-footers Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. LaVine was visibly frustrated early in the game as he tried unsuccessfully to get to the basket and draw fouls. But he did score 10 points in the final two minutes of the first quarter.
"They've got some hound dogs out there on the perimeter, and they send you into their big shot blockers," LaVine said. "You've got to make tough shots to score against them."
The Bulls (16-29) trailed 53-52 at halftime, but when Milwaukee opened the third quarter with a 22-7 run, the Bulls couldn't recover.
Markkanen went 0-for-7 from 3-point range, but he wasn't the only struggling shooter. Tomas Satoransky was 1-for-6 from long range. Thaddeus Young (4-for-8) and Kris Dunn (3-for-5) actually were the Bulls' best 3-point shooters, but those were guys the Bucks wanted shooting the ball.
"Most of them felt good," Markkanen said. "Just back to work tomorrow. I've had long stretches I didn't make shot, so I'm not worried about that."
Markkanen finished with 8 points and a team-high 8 rebounds. There have been plenty of questions about his drop in productivity from last year, but he has been playing through oblique and ankle injuries this season.
"The ankle's, not normal, but getting better," he said. "If you shoot the ball like that, you don't deserve touches. So can't really complain. But when you're actually making shots, it would be good to get closer to the rim and kind of keep it going. A lot of our plays, I screen-and-pop."
Markkanen is not the first Bulls player to express frustration about the offensive plan of shooting either layups or 3-pointers -- nothing else, unless the shot clock is running down.
"I think I can do a lot of things, not just shoot 3s," he said. "I haven't really been able to do that lately, so just got to figure out the ways I can attack the rim more and get to the free-throw line."
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