Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 1/2

Game 1: Monday, January 2nd
Game 2: Friday, January 6th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 22nd
Game 4: Wednesday, March 15th

Bulls 88

(29-36, 14-19 away)

Bucks 104

(32-32, 19-14 home)

    Coverage: CSNC

    7:00 PM ET, March 15, 2006

    BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHI 18 24 24 2288
    MIL 32 27 20 25104

    Top Performers

    Chi: A. Nocioni 25 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Mil: B. Simmons 26 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl

    Bucks beat Bulls, up three games in East race

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks finally built an insurmountable lead and damaged a division rival's playoff hopes in the process.

    Bobby Simmons scored 26 points, going 9-of-13 from the field, and Michael Redd added 23 to lead the Bucks over the Chicago Bulls 104-88 Wednesday night.

    Milwaukee (32-32) got back to .500 for the first time since March 1 and split the season series with Chicago (29-36), which now trails the Bucks by 3½ games and the Philadelphia 76ers by three for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    "That was a hell of a win against a team that needed to win it," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "I don't think it was any sweeter, this was an important game and we came out ready, had confidence, made shots. It was a fun game."

    The Bucks are eyeing the fifth spot, trailing Indiana by one game and Washington by 1½.

    "There's a sense of urgency as far as the playoff run," Simmons said. "If we don't play together, we won't win."

    Milwaukee, which had lost five of its last six at home, made sure Chicago was out of it early -- leading by as many as 24 in the first quarter.

    "That's been the one concern for our team -- start out better, start out fast," Redd said.

    T.J. Ford had 12 points and 10 assists, while Joe Smith had 15 points and Charlie Bell 13 points for Milwaukee.

    Andres Nocioni scored a career-high 25 points for Chicago and Luol Deng had 15 before leaving the game in the fourth after Nocioni poked him in the eye. Kirk Hinrich added 19 points.

    "It's unexplainable," Hinrich said. "Go up and down a line of this team and everybody would say the same thing. For whatever reason as a group, we weren't ready."

    Chicago went on a 13-0 run to end the third quarter after the Bucks took their biggest lead at 26, but still trailed 79-66 going into the fourth.

    Milwaukee, which had blown a 17-point second-half lead to lowly Atlanta two nights earlier before coming from behind to win, only led 91-84 after the Bulls made four consecutive shots, including a 3-pointer by Jannero Pargo with 3:19 left.

    But Chicago could get no closer.

    "Our focus was a lot better," Ford said. "I think we understand the situation that we're in right now."

    The Bulls' poor play was a far cry from how coach Scott Skiles had billed the game earlier in the evening.

    "It's as important as a regular-season game can get," Skiles said.

    Chicago didn't show it.

    After Ben Gordon hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring for the Bulls, they went on a 5-minute scoring drought, missing 10 consecutive shots and only managing three free throws.

    "We didn't look right. Right from the jump ball we weren't aggressive defensively," Skiles said after the game. "Tonight we were a step slow and they made us pay for it."

    In the meantime, Milwaukee hit eight out of nine from the field and had a 13-0 run, capped when Ford led a 3-on-none break and found Redd for a dunk to make it 26-6.

    Chicago committed 10 first-half turnovers, contributing to 21 points for the Bucks, who led 59-42 at the break.

    "We pretty much got dominated all over the place," Skiles said.

    Game notes

    Bulls G Chris Duhon missed his second straight game with lower back pain. ... Milwaukee is 2-0 in a stretch of six straight games against opponents with losing records. ... The Bucks are 2-8 against the rest of the Central Division, while the Bulls are just 1-9. ... Redd went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. He's hit 108 of his last 114 attempts (94.7 percent). ... Skiles did not have an update on Deng's injury after the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 88 104
    FGM-FGA 30-82 (.366) 34-71 (.479)
    3PM-3PA 10-26 (.385) 10-19 (.526)
    FTM-FTA 18-22 (.818) 26-35 (.743)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-36 9-48
    Assists 25 27
    Turnovers 15 17
    Steals 4 7
    Blocks 1 3
    Fast Break Points 11 13
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 28 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 26

    Top Performers

    Andres Nocioni Nocioni
    Points: 25
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Bobby Simmons Simmons
    Points: 26
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0