It wasn't too long ago that the Bulls said they didn't want to be the Milwaukee Bucks
Nothing personal, mind you. But the Bucks were one of those perennial .500 teams, a few games above or below every season, just barely making the playoffs. Not bad enough to get high draft picks or good enough to compete for a championship.
These days the Bulls goal is to be the Bucks.
"I like the way they play," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "They're one of the hardest playing teams in the league. They have a lot of guys who love the game and that shows in the way they play. [You] have to match that."
The Bulls couldn't Friday night in a 115-105 loss to Milwaukee at the United Center. The Bucks, despite career highs of 34 points and nine assists from recent pickup Jannero Pargo and a season-high 24 points from the forgotten Marcus Fizer, easily outplayed the Bulls.
Milwaukee had four players, led by Joe Smith with 23, scoring at least 20 points.
"Maybe eight of their first nine field goals were right at the basket or in the paint area," Skiles said. "Our defense was very poor. For most of the game we were very slow, so we fouled them. From beginning to end they dominated us. They played like they were playing for something. We played like we were disinterested. I can't say that surprises me."
Skiles' admiration for the Bucks was a subtleOK, not so subtleway of saying his team doesn't always play hard and he would love to be coaching players like those on the Bucks. When the season started, who wouldn't take the Bulls' roster over the Bucks' roster?
But the Bucks (36-36) are playoff bound. The Bulls (20-52), well, they're apparently only going as far as Pargo and Fizer can take them. Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler combined for 14 points on 5 of 25 shooting.
The Bucks, one of the league's top scoring and shooting teams, came out running and dunking. The Bulls committed four turnovers and missed six straight shots in a 14-0 Bucks run that let Milwaukee take a 24-10 lead.
The Bucks then opened the second quarter hitting their first five shots before Pargo and Fizer came to the rescue.
Pargo, the Robeson High School product, was brilliant from the perimeter, scoring 14 points in the second quarter and 19 in the first half, by then a career high. Fizer, who hadn't played in almost a month and had scored in double figures once since January, had 10 second-quarter points.
Fizer and Pargo combined for 24 of the Bulls' 28 second-quarter points to keep the team within 61-52 at halftime.
"I felt pretty good," said Pargo, who also tied a Bulls' record with seven three-pointers. "I had a couple of big nights in college, so 34 isn't my all-time career high. You dream of having an opportunity to go out and play freely and I took advantage of my opportunity."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times