The Chicago Bulls returned to the United Center for their first playoff game in five years with home-court advantage and the momentum of a road win at their back.
But they limped out of Game 3 with a 111-81 beatdown as the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back like a reigning NBA champion to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.
Bulls fans poured into the United Center with frenetic excitement, drowning out the team’s introduction videos. But that enthusiasm dulled in the first quarter of the blowout. By the time Patrick Williams threw away a turnover in the third quarter, scattered boos began to swell from the crowd.
The 30-point drubbing was the second-worst loss in franchise history behind a 115-78 defeat to the Miami Heat in the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Bucks ripped off a 13-0 run in the second quarter to cement a 19-point halftime lead, then went on a 13-0 run in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 29 points.
DeMar DeRozan fell flat on the heels of a postseason-career-high 41-point performance in Game 2, scoring 11 points and turning the ball over three times as the Bucks smothered him outside the paint. Zach LaVine struggled similarly with the Bucks ball pressure, finishing with 15 points and two turnovers. Patrick Williams went 0-for-9 after a solid Game 2.
Nikola Vučević led the Bulls in scoring with 19 points for the second time in the series, but he cooled off from 3-point range after opening with a pair in the first quarter.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in 29 minutes before sitting out most of the fourth quarter. But Grayson Allen stole the show for the Bucks.
The Bulls crowd greeted Allen with a chorus of boos when he entered the game, still upset after the guard fractured Alex Caruso’s right wrist with a hard foul in January. But Allen quickly sucked the air out of those jeers, going 5-for-7 from 3-point range and scoring 22 points to lead the Bucks bench to 47 points.
Meanwhile, the Bulls bench barely contributed. Coby White was the only reserve to score in the first half, and the bench contributed 26 only points on the night despite playing nearly all of the fourth quarter.
Bobby Portis stepped into the starting lineup to replace guard Khris Middleton, who sprained the MCL in his left knee in Game 2 and is out for the series. It paid off for the Bucks and for Portis, who finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
The larger lineup allowed the Bucks to seal off the paint, forcing the Bulls into midrange jumpers and 3-pointers. The Bulls didn’t take a free throw until the 3-minute, 8 second mark of the second quarter and went to the foul line only 10 times.
Game 4 is at noon Sunday at the United Center.
Source: Berkshire mont