Bulls stave off comeback, down Bucks

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Bulls stave off comeback, down Bucks

The Bulls had blown leads of 27 and 15 in their two losses at home to the Bucks this season and they finally got some payback with a 104-88 win in Milwaukee.

In the Bucks' victory at the United Center Jan. 9, Brandon Jennings scored a game-high 35 points to lead Milwaukee to a 104-96 win.

Jennings scored 20 of those points in the third quarter – mimicking Robinson’s usual celebration after a made three-pointer in front of the Bulls bench – after some apparent trash talking by Robinson before the second half, in which he scored 13 of his 19 in the first quarter.
 
“I guess he felt like he had it going, he was getting the best of me,” Jennings said. “I really don't take trash talking too kindly because I don't really do a lot of trash talking. I warned him, so, hey, it happens."

While Robinson’s talk irked Jennings, the Bulls were frustrated with blowing another lead at home at the way the Bucks strutted off the court afterwards.

To say this one was personal, not only with Robinson, but for the Bulls would be an understatement.

“We didn’t like the way they celebrated on our court,” Taj Gibson said, who scored 14 points and collected nine rebounds starting in place of Carlos Boozer. “[Robinson] really took pride in that last game. Brandon scored so many points against him on our court. Nate is one of those players where he doesn’t like that. So tonight, he said when he gets out there, he’s just going to go at him. Try to lock him up on defense, frustrate him and he did that."

Robinson scored 16 of his game-high 24 in the second quarter in which the Bulls outscored the Bucks, 32-18. The outburst was punctuated with Robinson’s first dunk of the season and first in two seasons with 1:53 remaining to put the Bulls ahead, 53-35.

The dunk surprised not only his teammates, but Robinson himself.

“My teammates have been teasing me all season, talking about how I’m a three-time Slam Dunk champion and I’m not getting any dunks,” Robinson said. “I just had the opportunity and I don’t dunk off one foot, so that kind of surprised everybody, including myself. I only probably had one dunk in my entire career off one foot and that was the second one. My fans have been asking when I’m going to dunk again, hopefully they can get off my back now that they have seen me dunk. I don’t have to dunk anymore for the rest of the season.”

Robinson would draw an offensive foul on Jennings with 2:54 remaining in the fourth and the Bulls ahead, 94-84.

Jennings flipped the ball towards the ref and had something to say to him afterwards and the exchange was enough to warrant two quick technical fouls and an early shower.

“They were going at it, Brandon Jennings is a big-time player,” Jimmy Butler said. “When you get frustrated a lot of different things can happen and he definitely got frustrated.”

Robinson downplayed the on-going duel between he and Jennings afterwards saying: “I took a charge, he shoved off. I don’t know about all the extra stuff – that’s on him. For us as a team, we played Chicago Bulls defense and we went out there and got the win.”

His dunk was also to the chagrin of several of teammates, mostly Richard Hamilton, who had a bet with him on who would dunk first during the season.

“He has to do 100 finger-tip pushups and I can’t wait,” Robinson said within an earshot of Hamilton.

He also had some outstanding bets that had gone forgotten. Joakim Noah confessed that he now owes Robinson some money.

“Well tell him to pay up,” Robinson said. “I didn’t even know that. He owes me lunch. I’ll take lunch over the money.”

It was payback all around for the Bulls at the Bradley Center.

Robin Lopez on when he knew he'd be suspended: 'When I threw a punch'

Robin Lopez on when he knew he'd be suspended: 'When I threw a punch'

Most NBA players have to let their adrenaline come down before the reality of what's coming next begins to hit them, but Robin Lopez had his moment of clarity at the oddest time during his altercation with Toronto's Serge Ibaka on Tuesday night.

When asked when he knew he would be serving at least a one-game suspension for his missed punch in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Raptors, Lopez said, "When I threw a punch."

The process from the NBA to Lopez was pretty straightforward, and Lopez called the one-game suspension "fair."

Ditching the caveman look for a clean shaven appearance at Friday morning's shootaround, Lopez seemed at ease with what happened and wasn't going to contest the one-game decision, especially since the NBA could've gone with two or three games as no precedent has been set for fighting this season.

"I mean, that's what the league gave. I'm going to stick with it," Lopez said, adding, "I didn't change my story."

The multiple camera angles would've made it impossible to believe a different recollection of the events had Lopez attempted to finagle himself out of the one-game suspension that stopped his 71-game starting streak with the Bulls this season.

[BULLS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

His matter-of-fact statement after an emotionally charged incident didn't hurt the Bulls. They beat the Pistons by 20 as Lopez was serving a banishment that ended his streak of 187 consecutive games played. But he was happy Joffrey Lauvergne got a chance to prove his worth.

Lauvergne had 17 points and seven rebounds Wednesday night, and he'll be behind Lopez against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night as Cristiano Felicio is recovering from a hard fall late in the Raptors game.

"He's very versatile. He's a playmaker, he can score from a lot of different spots on the floor. He's a really smart basketball player," Lopez said of Lauvergne. "I always want to be out there with the guys. But they took care of business and did their thing. So I was pleased to see them pick up the win."

Picking up two in a row shouldn't be a monumental task against the 76ers, though they are 3-3 in their last six games and the Bulls haven't won two in a row in nearly a month as their grip on a playoff spot has loosened.

For the moment, the Bulls sit ninth in the East, a full game behind the surging Miami Heat, with a 34-38 record. Teams with nothing to lose can be playoff spoilers, and the Bulls have lost more than their share of games to lesser teams this season.

"Those teams do play loose," Lopez said. "They kind of just go out there to play basketball, and that can be a bit dangerous. But we've got something to play for, so we've got to be more motivated. The Sixers especially, they play really well, they have a lot of energy. So we've got to go out there, we've got to play motivated."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls make the postseason?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls make the postseason?

Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000), Brian Hedger (nhl.com) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel.  The Bulls beat the Pistons in a game with huge playoff implication.  So could they actually make the postseason?

The Blackhawks are closing in one division title but what’s their biggest weakness?

Plus Theo Epstein’s a really great leader, Kyle Hendricks is going to have to wait a while to pitch plus DeShone Kizer loves the band “Chicago” but will he play here?