Bucks survive Bulls comeback for Game 1 win

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks rebounded after forfeiting a 16-point lead to defeat the Chicago Bulls 93-86 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday to beat.

Jrue Holiday sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:03 left as part of an 8-0 run that gave the Bucks an 85-78 advantage. The Bulls reduced the lead to one but were never able to regain the lead as Zach LaVine missed a potential 3-pointer from nearly 30 feet by 29 seconds.

The Bucks have won 17 of their last 18 meetings with the Bulls, including all five meetings this season. The Bulls’ only win at this stretch came in the Finals of the 2020-21 regular season, when the Bucks rested all of their starters.

Milwaukee maintained that pattern Sunday by holding Chicago to the lowest single-game score of any Bucks opponent this season. But the Bucks also continued their habit of battling in series opening games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished the game with 27 points at the highest level.

The Bucks won last year’s title despite dropping Game 1 in three of their four series. They had lost the opening game in five of their last six playoff series prior to Sunday, the exception being when Khris Middleton scored a 3-pointer in the final second of overtime against the Miami Heat last season.

Brook Lopez scored 18 points, Holiday had 15, Khris Middleton had 11 and Bobby Portis added 10. Portis also had 12 rebounds.

Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls, making her first playoff appearance in five years. LaVine had 18 points and 10 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Nikola Vucevic lays up a layup during the Bulls' loss to the Bucks.
Nikola Vucevic lays up a layup during the Bulls’ loss to the Bucks.

After the Bucks took an early 32-16 lead and threatened to put that game out of reach early on, the Bulls dropped out and eventually moved ahead with 13 straight points late in the third quarter. Coby White scored the last five points of the run, including a 3-pointer that gave the Bulls their first lead at 67-64 with 3-11 in the third lead.

White’s layup made it 69-64, but the Bucks ended the third quarter with a 10-2 spurt to retire.

Vucevic’s inside basket restored Chicago to a 78-77 lead with 5:56 to go. The Bucks regained the lead from Holiday’s 3-pointer, which was only Milwaukee’s second basket in the fourth quarter.

The Bucks celebrate after winning Game 1.
The Bucks celebrate after winning Game 1.

Lopez made it 83-78 with 4:34 to go, converting a three-point play for his first points since the opening period. Holiday capped the 8-0 run by sinking a knight with 3:58 left.

The Bulls cut the lead to 87-86 on Alex Caruso’s layup with 1:36 left, but they would not score another. Bucks survive Bulls comeback for Game 1 win


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