The Milwaukee Bucks won the fourth game of their best-of-seven first round playoff matchup with the Chicago Bulls on Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center, 92-90, on a layup by reserve guard Jerryd Bayless at the buzzer off of a sideline inbounds pass from reserve swingman Jared Dudley. The thrilling late-game heroics enabled Milwaukee to prevent itself from being swept by the Bulls, as Chicago came in with a three game to zero series lead.
Clutch plays and opportunistic defense led to the Bucks’ victory.
Bayless’s layup broke the tie when it mattered most, as Milwaukee, and particularly reserve guard O.J. Mayo, hit some big shots to hold off the Bulls. In addition, Chicago committed 28 turnovers that led to 39 points for the Bucks. Mayo led the victors with 18 points on a very balanced attack.
Milwaukee got 47 points from its bench, outscoring the starters by two points. The tale was much different for the Bulls, as they only got 13 points from their reserves. This is a different trend from the first three games in which Chicago’s backups outplayed those of the Bucks.
A largely competitive first half ended in a 50-50 tie. The Bulls led by four points at the end of the first quarter and scored the first five points of the second. Soon after that, things got a little chippy, which has been characteristic of this series. Bulls’ backup point guard Aaron Brooks gave a cheap foul on the perimeter to Bayless, who then retaliated with a shove. Immediately, Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd and other assistants prevented the bench from getting involved in the skirmish, and both Bayless and Brooks were assessed technical fouls, Brooks given a flagrant-one. Brooks missed his technical free throw, but Bayless hit all three of his.
In the possession following the free throws, Bayless drove the lane and drew another foul on Brooks, which was his third at that point. That was part of a 27-6 Bucks spurt over seven minutes to take a 46-34 lead. However, Chicago came right back with a 16-4 run to tie the game at the half, 12 of those points coming from shooting guard Jimmy Butler which included a buzzer-beating 26-foot three-pointer. Butler finished with a game-high 33 points.
The third quarter was neck-and-neck, with neither team taking a lead larger than four points. Milwaukee opened up a four-point lead on a layup by starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams, but the Bulls answered with a 10-2 run that was opened by Butler, who scored five straight to give the visitors the lead. The Bucks came back with a 9-2 run started by a layup-and-one by starting shooting guard Khris Middleton. In addition, Milwaukee made the last shot of the quarter, a 13-footer by Dudley to give the home squad a two-point lead heading into the final frame.
Momentum for the Bucks continued into the fourth. They outscored Chicago 14-8 over the first eight and a half minutes to open up an eight-point lead, 87-79. However, the Bulls, in particular star point guard Derrick Rose, had one final response.
Rose had a largely quiet game for the road team, as he only had five points heading into the last stanza, all of them in the first quarter. But, characteristic of marquee players, he came up with some clutch plays that got his hometown team back into the game. He hit a driving layup, then Mayo responded with a three, although the latter was eventually taken off of the board, as instant replay determined Mayo had not gotten the shot off in time to beat the shot clock. Butler then hit another long three. After Mayo connected on a three following a wild sequence in which Milwaukee grabbed three offensive rebounds, and a missed shot by each team, Rose drilled a deep three-pointer over Bayless to cut the Bucks’ lead to three. Middleton then missed a shot on the other end, and Rose snagged the rebound and raced up court, finding a cutting Pau Gasol for an and-one that tied the game. Kidd then called a timeout.
Bayless missed a driving layup coming out of the break, and Bulls’ reserve power forward Taj Gibson got the rebound and passed to Rose. Chicago, relying on their star to deliver, set up a play for him to take the winning shot. However, as he was going from right to left, Middleton got his arm in and stripped Rose and Kidd and Dudley both signaled for a timeout, setting up the final play.
The Bulls anticipated the Bucks’ running a screen for one of their shooters, but Dudley snuck the pass inside to Bayless, who converted the layup after Rose misplayed the pass and allowed him to have a clean look. After the layup dropped, the crowd went crazy and confetti started falling. Milwaukee was still standing.
Now, Milwaukee returns to the Windy City to take on Chicago in Game 5 at the United Center on Monday at 7:00pm. If the Bucks can steal a win in Chicago, they come home for Game 6 on Thursday.
Bulls: Gasol finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the series. Rose committed eight turnovers and dished out six assists. The team did not play well with center Joakim Noah on the floor, and neither did he. His plus-minus rating was -23, and he finished with only 4 points and 5 rebounds.
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Game 3, sat out the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. John Henson, who has been an interior eraser, once again had an impact defensively with four blocks, including two key ones in the fourth. Five players finished with 10+ points.