CHICAGO - Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and 17 rebounds in his return to action and the Milwaukee Bucks extended their recent mastery of the Chicago Bulls with a 126-98 blowout on Tuesday night.
Antetokounmpo missed the Bucks’ 138-119 loss at Minnesota on Saturday due to a sore right knee. Milwaukee played without All-Star forward Khris Middleton, who was dealing with a sore left wrist.
"He took a fall in the Minnesota game, and it was pretty sore and stiff, so we’ve had it looked at," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. "We feel like it’s short term, but we’ll see how he feels the next day or two."
Jrue Holiday had a game-high 27 points to go along with seven assists as the Bucks won for the 15th time in their last 16 meetings with the Bulls, including all three matchups this season. The Bulls’ lone win during that stretch came in their 2019-20 regular-season finale, when the Bucks rested their starters because they were locked into the East’s No. 3 playoff seed.
Brook Lopez had 10 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes for Milwaukee after making his first start since the season opener. The 7-footer had come off the bench for the Bucks’ last three games after missing 67 due to a back injury that required surgery.
Nikola Vucevic had 22 points for the Bulls, who opened a five-game trip one night after a 113-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine added 21 points each.
Milwaukee took command with a 23-4 spurt that began late in the first quarter and continued in the second period. The game was tied 20-all before the Bucks scored the final 13 points of the opening period.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 59-33 before the Bulls charged back by scoring 13 straight points. That included a personal 10-0 run by LaVine, who capped the outburst by hitting a 3-pointer to open the second half.
Chicago cut the lead to 64-54 on a pair of free throws by LaVine with 8:51 left in the third, but the Bucks regrouped and pulled away again. They eventually led by as many as 35.
Milwaukee’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Tristan Thompson each received technical fouls late in the fourth quarter after they got into a brief tussle on an inbounds pass attempt.
Bulls: Patrick Williams remained on a minutes restriction in his second game back after missing 65 with a torn ligament in his left wrist. He has played 18 minutes each of the last two games. "He’s going to need I think a series of games to get up where we can move his minutes up," coach Billy Donovan said before the game.
Bucks: George Hill was fined $15,000 after getting ejected from Saturday’s loss for shoving Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley from behind. Beverley, who shoved Ibaka from behind earlier in the altercation, was fined $20,000. ... Bulls fans made up a sizeable minority of the crowd, so Grayson Allen got a mix of loud cheers and boos whenever he was introduced. It was the Bulls’ first game back in Milwaukee since Jan. 21, when Allen was ejected for a flagrant foul on Alex Caruso that caused the Bulls guard to miss 22 games with a fractured right wrist. The teams faced each other in Chicago on March 4.
Bulls: At New Orleans on Thursday. The Bulls beat the Pelicans 128-112 in Chicago on Oct. 22.
Bucks: Host the Washington Wizards on Thursday. The Bucks have split two previous meetings with the Wizards. The Bucks lost 101-94 at Washington on Nov. 7 and won 112-98 at Milwaukee on Feb. 1.