Mike Dunleavy scored 20 points and the Chicago Bulls came close to an NBA playoff record, finally putting away the Milwaukee Bucks with a 120-66 victory in Game 6 to clinch their first-round series Thursday night.
The Bulls, who move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, finished four points away from the NBA playoff record for largest margin of victory. Minnesota beat St. Louis, 133-75, on March 19, 1956.
“They had some momentum in the series, won a couple in a row,” Dunleavy said. “We came out on their court and put it on them. That’s frustrating. If anybody’s been there before, that’s frustrating, and I understand that.”
The game was over early, but it still featured plenty of the intensity and bad blood that marked the first five games of the series and Dunleavy was in the middle of much of the action. He drew the foul that led to the ejection of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo for a flagrant 2 foul just before halftime.
Pau Gasol scored 19 points and Jimmy Butler added 16 for the Bulls, who started the series with a 3-0 lead before two straight wins by the defensive-minded Bucks put them back in position to tie it. Derrick Rose scored 15 points and all five Chicago starters were in double figures.
In an indication of Milwaukee’s misery on offense, no Bucks starter scored more than Zaza Pachulia’s eight points. It was the biggest playoff loss in team history. The Bucks lost by 36 points at New York in 1970.
Antetokounmpo was ejected after a hard foul on Dunleavy during a three-point attempt that sent him crashing into the front row of fans with 1 minute 34 seconds left in the second quarter. After a review, officials ruled it a flagrant 2. It may have been a reaction to a hand to the face that Dunleavy gave Antetokounmpo a little earlier in the game — an incident similar to contact between Dunleavy’s arm and Michael Carter-Williams’ face near the beginning of the game.
Dunleavy and Carter-Williams tangled again in the third quarter. Dunleavy bumped Carter-Williams, who retaliated by swinging his left arm and sending Dunleavy to the court. Dunleavy was called for an offensive foul, and Carter-Williams earned a technical. Dunleavy played for the Bucks for two seasons before joining the Bulls in 2013-14.
It was a rough end to a successful season for the Bucks, who were the league’s worst team in 2013-14 but turned it around to earn the No. 6 playoff season under new Coach Jason Kidd.
The Bucks were never really in this one, though, trailing 34-16 at the end of the first quarter and 65-33 at the half.