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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks bid to continue streak vs. Bulls

Field Level Media

March 01, 2024 at 12:39 pm.

The Milwaukee Bucks have won four consecutive games for the first time since the calendar turned to 2024.

Milwaukee will look to match its second-longest winning streak of the season when it visits the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

The Bucks have won their past three games by an average of 23.7 points, including a home-and-home sweep of the Charlotte Hornets. Milwaukee won the road portion 111-99 on Thursday to finish off a four-game season sweep in which it beat Charlotte by an average of 29.3 points.

The four-game winning streak is the Bucks’ best run since Doc Rivers took over as coach.

Forward Bobby Portis said Rivers profoundly has affected Milwaukee, which had trouble meshing under first-year coach Adrian Griffin, who was fired on Jan. 23 despite a 30-13 record.

“Shout to Doc,” Portis said. “Having a guy that can sit down with everybody and tell every player what he expects from them, it makes you own your role more. And I think the ball finds energy when you move it, play free and drive and kick. The ball finds the right man and everybody just lines up and shoots it.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting and collected 10 rebounds on Thursday. Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.8 points and shooting 63.8 percent from the field (37 of 58) during the winning streak.

Malik Beasley made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points for the Bucks. Damian Lillard scored 17 points and Portis contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bulls are finishing a three-game homestand. The first contest was a highly disappointing 105-95 loss to the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. Chicago bounced back one night later with a thrilling 132-123 double-overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Bulls cleaned up on the boards against Cleveland with a 74-39 rebounding advantage, including 25 on the offensive glass. Veteran Andre Drummond collected a season-best 26 rebounds and had nine on the offensive end.

“They don’t make rebounders like ‘Dre anymore,” teammate DeMar DeRozan said of Drummond, the 12-year veteran who has won four NBA rebounding titles.

“He’s one of the unique ones who comes from the old school of rebounding. You see the things he does is crazy. You’ve got to have someone almost an equal to him, and there’s no one as equal to him in this league who can rebound with him.”

The Bulls certainly were pushed to the limit physically on the second end of the back-to-back as Coby White played 50 minutes and DeRozan scored 35 points while playing 49. Ayo Dosunmu received 48 minutes of playing time and Nikola Vucevic played 40.

The 34-year-old DeRozan is into Ironman-like minutes. He leads the league with an average of 37.9 per game.

“Love it,” DeRozan told reporters. “Like when you are a kid and you are young you play until your momma screams at you and the streetlights come on. Same thing here — we try to relish the opportunities. It’s fun to be in those types of games.”

The Bucks have won two of three meetings with the Bulls this season but Chicago prevailed 120-113 in overtime at home on Nov. 30. Vucevic scored 29 points to pace the Bulls, while Antetokounmpo had 26 for Milwaukee.