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.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

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While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.