CHICAGO -- A seriously depleted Chicago Bulls lineup faced a short-handed Milwaukee Bucks team Tuesday night at the United Center.
So a predictably close game came down to one very unpredictable shot.
Bucks center John Henson, with nowhere to go and the shot clock running down, tossed up a 22-footer with his team clinging to a one-point lead late in the final quarter.
And Henson's shot hit nothing but net and catapulted the Bucks to a 78-74 victory.
"That was a hope and a prayer," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "It went in."
The shot with 1 minute 35 seconds left gave the Bucks a 75-72 lead and proved to be the turning point as Milwaukee (5-16) hung on in the final minute.
"It felt good, to be honest with you," Henson said. "I knew it was good after a little bit because I could see the flight of the ball."
But that big shot was hardly the only contribution by the second-year center. The 6-foot-11 Henson finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks while playing 41 minutes.
"He was super tonight," Drew said. "I thought he played a very complete game, particularly giving up size and strength against (Carlos) Boozer and Taj Gibson.
"John held his own; he was very competitive."
The Bulls played without Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler, all out with injuries. And the Bucks were without Zaza Pachulia and Gary Neal, who were added to Milwaukee's injury list this week.
"These guys gutted it out," Drew said. "In a situation like this you need a little luck to fall your way."
Brandon Knight added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee and Ersan Ilyasova had 10 points in 31 minutes off the bench.
The Bucks absorbed an early punch from former teammate Mike Dunleavy, who scored 18 points in the second quarter and finished with a season-high 24 for the Bulls (8-11).
"I've seen that in practice all the time (last season)," Henson said. "Guys were kind of getting upset and I was like, 'It's all right, man.'
"You've got to give him his respect. Mike is good. It was good to come out on top, though."
Drew assigned Knight to defend Dunleavy late in the second quarter even though the 6-3 point guard was giving up at least 6 inches to Dunleavy.
"For me it was just making sure I stayed on his hip, fighting through screens," Knight said. "Whenever he comes off clean, he's such a good shooter he's going to have confidence to knock it down.
"But if you come off (a screen) and he has a guy right next to him, it's going to throw him off his rhythm a little bit."
The Bucks also used a zone defense to slow down the Bulls, and it proved effective as Milwaukee mounted a third-quarter comeback after trailing, 42-35, at halftime.
"It got us some good possessions where we did get some stops," Drew said of the zone. "We were active with it.
"It's not a time to rest. We have to be just as active in our zone as we are in our man-to-man. Tonight we were."
The Bucks held the Bulls to just 32 points and 35 percent shooting in the second half.
"They came out with a zone and we just couldn't beat it," Dunleavy said. "We got a little hesitant; they got some confidence.
"We were outscored down the stretch in the fourth (quarter), but that (zone) was the difference."
After Henson's huge shot, Ekpe Udoh blocked a shot by Bulls rookie Tony Snell and Henson pulled down the rebound.
The Bulls had two more chances to cut into the three-point lead but failed, and Ilyasova sank two free throws with 4.2 seconds left to make it 77-72 and secure the victory.
Henson had six offensive rebounds as he helped the Bucks score 15 second-chance points, and he hit 11 of 17 shots.
"He was on the boards, blocking shots and being very active," Knight said. "And with his length he can do that in every game."
Boozer had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls but Henson helped limit him to 9-of-23 shooting.
"We just kept fighting," Henson said. "I think I'm figuring out what I need to do when I'm out there.
"I'm still a young player, just my second year 20 games in. I'm learning on the go. The ball fell in my hands at the right time and I got a few offensive rebounds, and that's how you have a big game."
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