Bulls dominate Bucks in paint and on fast breaks
(MCT) — MILWAUKEE — Nate Robinson, the only three-time Slam Dunk champion in All-Star history, kept telling his teammates he would get one.
So when his first dunk of the season came late in the second quarter of the Bulls’ 104-88 victory over the Bucks on Wednesday night at Bradley Center, Robinson started talking.
Robinson likes to talk as much as Tom Thibodeau likes to study film, so this was very comfortable territory for the energetic guard.
First, Robinson shouted at the Bulls’ bench, “I want my money,” a nod, no doubt, to some friendly wagering with teammates. Then he started chatting up Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, with whom he had exchanged trash talk during these teams’ last meeting.
Finally, Robinson started talking to nobody in particular, just woofing at the wind.
It was that kind of night for the Bulls, who began six straight road games with a strong and balanced offensive showing despite Carlos Boozer sitting for the first time this season. Six Bulls landed in double figures, led by Robinson’s 24 points.
The Bulls, who led by as many as 20 points, posted a season-high 66 points in the paint and also 17 fast-break points, four off their season-best. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng had double-doubles. Taj Gibson, who started when Boozer succumbed to a hamstring injury, just missed with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“The fact we lost a couple of leads against these guys before, we didn’t want to let our guard down,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We had a lot of guys step up. Taj was terrific stepping in for Carlos. Nate and Jimmy (Butler) gave us a big lift. Deng and Noah were solid throughout.”
Robinson’s non-stop energy later featured him taking a charge from Jennings, who argued the call and got ejected with 2 minutes, 54 seconds remaining.
Robinson broke open a tight game in the second quarter by sinking his first seven shots for 16 points, including the one-handed, righty dunk off a feed from Deng. Robinson scored seven, Jimmy five and Gibson four in a 16-6 run that established control.
The Bulls had defensive problems in the third quarter as the Bucks whittled their deficit to seven points. But Deng tossed a perfect alley-oop that Butler dunked and then Butler put back a Deng miss to push the Bulls’ lead back to 12.
“I liked our toughness,” Thibodeau said. “We showed some fight, got back and made some hustle plays. Kirk (Hinrich’s) defense was great all game.
“I liked the way (Nate) and Kirk played together, which was very effective. You have to match up with their quickness.”
Butler continued his strong recent showing with 18 points in just 28 minutes.