CHICAGO (AP) -- This latest version of the Chicago Bulls is a
winner. For one night, at least.
Playing just a few hours after the trade that brought them from
Toronto was finalized, Jerome Williams and Antonio Davis gave the
Bulls the energy and enthusiasm they've been missing, and the Bulls
made coach Scott Skiles a winner in his Chicago debut with a 97-87
victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
"Oh, man. It has been a fantastic day," Davis said, a wide
grin plastered across his face. "I was a little bit worried about
how I was going to feel ... but the energy just kept going, kept
When the buzzer sounded, Williams and Jamal Crawford ran to the
sidelines and hugged Skiles.
"It's a big thrill for me to get the first win," said Skiles,
who has been out of coaching since leaving Phoenix in February
2002. "I knew it was going to come sooner or later. It's nice to
get it out of the way."
Williams finished with 13 points, a team-high 10 rebounds and
four steals -- including a floor-burner that immediately endeared
him to Bulls fans. Davis had 11 points, five rebounds and three
The new guys weren't the only ones contributing, though. No,
this was a true team effort. Crawford scored a season-high 30
points and had eight assists and eight rebounds. Eddy Curry had 22
points, including a monster dunk to stop a 12-0 Milwaukee run that
had pulled the Bucks within 91-87 late in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls had a whopping 22-6 edge on fast-break points, and
outscored Milwaukee 46-26 in the paint.
"With coach Skiles' system and the new guys, it just fits our
team a whole lot better," Crawford said. "That's the most
comfortable I've been in four years. Honestly."
Michael Redd led the Bucks with 26 points, and Desmond Mason had
his first double-double of the year with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
"We knew that (Williams) and Antonio were going to be fired
up," Redd said. "They did a great job of showing energy tonight
with coach Skiles."
The Bucks beat the Bulls by 30 last month, but this is, quite
obviously, a different team. After getting off to a dismal 4-12
start, general manager John Paxson put the Bulls through a massive
overhaul in the last week.
He fired Bill Cartwright last Monday, then hired Skiles on
Friday. And Paxson wasn't done yet. On Saturday he agreed to a
long-rumored deal with Toronto, giving up Jalen Rose -- the team's
only consistent offensive threat -- Donyell Marshall and Lonny
Baxter in exchange for Davis, Williams and Chris Jefferies.
The trade needed to be approved by the NBA, so it wasn't
finalized until Monday morning. Davis and Williams spent the day
getting physicals and then arrived at the arena -- still not having
practiced with their new team.
"I've been in this situation on a team where there are so many
traumatic things happening at once," Skiles said. "A trade, guys
you knew are gone. Coach that everybody likes is gone and a new guy
comes in. There are so many things one on top of the other and you
don't know if -- you know guys are going to come out and play with
enthusiasm in the beginning but then it can wear off and you can be
"So, it would be very easy for me to think this was one of
those coaching honeymoon games where the Bulls put one out there
and that's going to be it. But I don't think so."
Not when Williams plays the way he does. Nicknamed the
"Junkyard Dog" for his tenacious defense and relentless energy,
Williams had Bulls fans woofing before halftime.
When Chicago fell behind by 10 in the first half, he hit a pair
of free throws to spark a 16-3 run that got them back in the game.
Curry took over from there, scoring eight of his 13 first-half
points to tie the game at 37.
Williams then stole the ball from T.J. Ford and fed Crawford for
a slam that gave Chicago a 39-37 lead -- its first of the game --
with 3:57 left in the half.
"I heard a few barks out there," Williams said. "I could hear
a faint dog pound. That's nice. That's a little bit of love."
Williams gave Chicago the lead for good early in the fourth
quarter. First he stripped Redd, diving on the floor to wrestle the
ball away and tossing the ball to Crawford, who scored on the easy
Then, on Chicago's next possession, Crawford fed Williams. He
took it in for a monster slam that gave the Bulls a 74-69 lead with
10:01 to play.
The victory snapped Chicago's seven-game losing streak. ...
Bucks F Toni Kukoc left the game with back spasms in the second
quarter and did not return. ... Bucks F Tim Thomas missed his third
straight game with a sprained left ankle.