MILWAUKEE -- A series of mistakes kept the Milwaukee Bucks from making it two in a row this week over the rival Chicago Bulls.
Oh, and some Joakim Noah hustle and Mike Dunleavy clutch shooting also played a huge part.
Noah forced a jump ball with the Bucks trying to protect a two-point lead and Dunleavy cashed in the extra chance with a three-point bank shot from the top of the arc, giving the Bulls a 91-90 victory over the Bucks on Friday night.
A decidedly pro-Bulls gathering of 15,219 tried to will Chicago to a comeback victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and it worked after the Bucks led for most of the game.
When Khris Middleton flipped in a lefty runner with one-tenth of a second on the shot clock and 29.8 seconds left, the Bucks had a 90-88 lead.
And when former Marquette star Jimmy Butler traveled on the Bulls' next possession, it appeared the Bucks could repeat the result of Tuesday, when they won a close one over Chicago at the United Center.
But it didn't happen.
"We just didn't make plays going down the stretch," said Bucks coach Larry Drew. "We had too many bad possessions.
"Defensively I thought we did a good job. We just could not secure the ball off the glass. When you're in that crunch-time mode, that shot goes up on the glass, you have to do everything to keep your guy off the glass."
Noah was relentless with 21 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks. And he blocked O.J. Mayo's final drive and the Bucks' last-ditch try after Dunleavy's shot.
Dunleavy hit his 27-foot shot with 5.8 seconds left after Noah tied up Gary Neal after he received an inbounds pass.
"Yeah, I was thinking about shooting it," Dunleavy said. "Switch hands and shooting it with my left like the previous shot that went in for them.
"But honestly, Henson switching out I knew I had to get it over him, so I got a lot of arc on it and straight as an arrow it just banked in. The second it left my hand I felt it was going in, I thought it was going to be banked in. So I wasn't surprised what happened at all. I think maybe other people were, but just tried to get it up over Henson.
"He's just so long. If I would have shot my normal shot he might have got a piece of it. So I guess what I'm telling you is I took a bad shot and it went in."
Butler, returning to the Bulls lineup after missing 11 games with a turf toe injury, contributed 16 points and Carlos Boozer added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Neal returned from a left foot injury and had 17 points for the Bucks (5-18). Henson had 15 points and eight rebounds and Mayo added 14 points.
But Mayo struggled at the end of the game as he fouled Dunleavy on a three-point attempt, leading to three free throws by the Bulls player. And following that play the Bucks guard took a deep three-pointer that missed.
The Bulls then tied the score at 88-88 on a baseline jumper by Boozer.
"Two bad plays," Drew said. "The shot was not a good shot, and you can't foul a three-point shooter in that situation.
"You just can't do it. We put ourselves in a good position. But it really comes down to making plays down the stretch."
Rookie small forward Giannis Antetonkounmpo played 24 minutes and had eight points and nine rebounds while playing some strong defense for Milwaukee.
"I thought the kid played a super game," Drew said. "He did some very good things while he was out on the floor."
The Bulls (9-12) snapped a three-game skid as they won their seventh in a row at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, their home away from home.
The last time the Bulls won seven straight in Milwaukee came from April 1989 through March 1989.
Instead of heading to Dallas on a high note, the Bucks had to be wondering where the victory went.
"This is a tough one, man," Henson said. "At this point in the season we need every win. Losses like this could really hurt us toward the end of the season, especially the way the East is going. This one is going to sting a little bit more than most of them."
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