CHICAGO – Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon bagged 22 points each to lead the Milwaukee Bucks’ balanced offense to a 117-106 road win against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Monday night.
The Bucks had four other players reach double figures, as the squad’s back up players stepped up in the absence of star player Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The “Greek Freak” was sidelined with an injury to his right knee, and it looked as though he would be sorely missed during a difficult opening quarter for Milwaukee.
Chicago, which was led by Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez’s 26 points each, started strongly, opening up a 13-point lead by the start of the second quarter.
But the Bucks came storming back in the second quarter, scoring more than twice as many points as the home team to go into the half time interval up by nine.
“We picked it up defensively (in the second quarter) and then got on the break,” Middleton told reporters in the locker room after the game.
The shooting guard played down the significance of Antetokounmpo’s injury, and praised the Bucks bench players for stepping up in his absence.
“Knowing that he’s out, I gotta be a little more aggressive, look for my shot a bit more and try to get more guys involved,” Middleton said.
“We always know it’s gonna be tough on the road, and they got off to a great start but the bench did a great job,” he added.
Middleton made three of five three-point attempts, while Brogdon sank four-of-seven shots from downtown.
Montenegrin-Spanish player Nikola Mirotic was one of the substitutes to step up in Giannis’ absence, adding 13 points in 23 minutes on court.
Mirotic made five out of 11 field goal attempts, including three-of-nine three-pointers, but his all-round performance was particularly impressive, as the former Real Madrid player took four rebounds, including three on defense, while giving two assists.
With the win, Milwaukee solidified its place at the top of the Eastern Conference with the best record in the NBA after racking up 46 wins with just 14 defeats. The Bucks have won 17 of their last 19 games.
The Bulls (16-45), meanwhile, broke a three-game winning streak as they slipped to their fifth defeat in their last 10 outings. Chicago is in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.