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.

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

Who are the Bulls? The team that beat Cleveland and Toronto or lost to Dallas, Minnesota and Milwaukee?

That's the question Bulls fans are currently asking and the one Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill posed in the video above.

The Bulls have had impressive wins and shocking losses, but neither of those should be surprising at this point. The Bulls are, as Goodwill put it, consistently inconsistent.

The first half of the season has proven that Dwyane Wade still has some memorable moments left to give and Jimmy Butler continues to approach superstardom. On the downside, the drama surrounding Rajon Rondo has meant the 'three alphas' that were hyped up in the preseason haven't been the dynamic trio some Bulls fans had hoped.

Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't have the shooters his system needs, but can he still rally the troops and get something out of Rondo?

Watch the video to see Goodwill's look back on the Bulls' first half and what could be ahead.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Watch as the Bulls take on the Pelicans today on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. What's Jimmy Butler got in store? On paper, Butler's performance Sunday night against the Grizzlies was nothing special. In fact, in many ways it fell short of his season averages. But Jimmy G. Buckets was on his game in the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed him most, helping them to a crucial road victory in Memphis. Tonight a fast start will be key against a Mavericks team that struggles to play from behind.

2. Dirk Nowitzki is back. The Mavericks are finally getting back to full-strength, and the main contributor to that is Dirk Nowtizki. The future Hall-of-Famer is finally rounding into form after an Achilles injury kept him out of the lineup most of the year. In his last three games, Nowitzki is averaging 20.3 points on 49 percent shooting.

3. There was at least some rumblings that the Bulls might have considered going after Ames native Harrison Barnes this past offseason. Instead, Barnes wound up in Dallas a potential building block for the Mavs. And he's looked pretty solid through the season's first half. Barnes is averaging 20.7 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and nearly a steal per game in 36 minutes. It'll be a fun matchup watching him go against Jimmy Butler.

4. More 3-pointers on the way? It's easy to say that a 31-point outing will get you going, but maybe Doug McDermott can build on his career night against the Grizzlies. He hit 3 of 6 triples, made 10 of 11 free throws and even added six rebounds and a(nother) block. The Bulls will be able to run more against the Mavs than they were the Grizzlies, meaning more spacing for McDermott to find open shots. If he's hitting early, the Bulls are in good shape.

5. A three-game winning streak on the line. The last time the Bulls won three straight -- earlier this month -- it pushed them over .500. Now they've got a chance to reel off a third straight and again get back over .500. As poorly as the Bulls have played as a whole, the Eastern Conference is wide open at the bottom half of the playoff bracket, so these are opportunities they don't want to miss against a struggling team.

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