Nocioni, Bulls top undermanned Bucks for third straight winJan 18, 2007 - 6:55 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Andres Nocioni and the Chicago Bulls are playing their best basketball of the season.
Nocioni scored 21 points and Ben Gordon added 20 as the Bulls dominated the injury-ravaged Milwaukee Bucks in the fourth quarter en route to a 99-90 victory and their third straight win.
Luol Deng had 19 points and nine rebounds for Chicago, which outscored the Bucks, 32-17, in the final period to secure the victory.
"We got more active. The ball movement picked us up a little bit," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We were attempting to move the ball earlier in the game, but we were making some poor decisions, dribbling into traffic, getting into trouble and missing some open shots on top of it all."
Milwaukee was unable to generate any offense down the stretch with reliable scorers Michael Redd (knee), Mo Williams (shoulder) and Charlie Villanueva (shoulder) sidelined with injuries.
Since dropping three straight contests from January 8-11, the Bulls have bounced back in resounding fashion, exploding for a 45-point rout of Memphis on Saturday before defeating San Antonio, 99-87, on Monday.
On Wednesday, Skiles would take a win any way he could get it.
"Well, it was not a beautiful game, that's for sure," Skiles said. "Both teams turned the ball over, but on many occasions we kept giving it right back to them. When we go the smaller lineup out there, we moved the ball a little better, got some better looks and our defense tightened up to help us win the game."
Nocioni helped Chicago continue its stellar play against Milwaukee. A hard-nosed reserve, the Argentine shot 8-of-11 from the floor, including two shots from the arc, in just 21 minutes. Known for his intensity and spirited play, the 6-7 forward injected energy into his squad throughout.
Trailing by six points entering the fourth quarter, the Bulls went on a 20-3 run to start the period, capped by Deng's layup with five minutes left to make it 87-76. Nocioni scored nine points in the final 12 minutes.
"For three quarters, we did not play good basketball in any aspects," Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich said. "It seemed like we did not have the energy or the focus that we had in past games. To our credit, we stepped it up in the fourth quarter, which was good to see."
Gordon was 6-of-17 from the field and Hinrich scored 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting and dished out nine assists, breaking down Milwaukee's zone.
"We were just trying to play our game," Gordon said. "When they were in that zone, we tried to stay aggressive and attack. I thought we did a better job of moving the ball against the zone, getting guys open looks, which was a point of emphasis."
Rookie Ersan Ilyasova scored a season-high 22 points for the Bucks, who shot just 39 percent (30-of-78) in suffering their sixth loss in their last seven contests.
"Defensively, we didn't play well," Ilyasova said. "We gave up easy layups and too many turnovers. I don't know why. I think we've got to pick it up, just looking forward."
Despite the poor effort, coach Terry Stotts praised his rookie forward.
"Ersan shot with confidence and he's getting an opportunity and he's making the most of it," Stotts said. "I was pleased, obviously, with the way he played. Like most guys, I'm sure he'd rather have a win."
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
CHICAGO 26 23 18 32 99
MILWAUKEE 31 20 22 17 90 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: CHI - ANDRES NOCIONI 21, BEN GORDON 20, LUOL
MIL - ERSAN ILYASOVA 22, EARL BOYKINS 17,
RUBEN PATTERSON 15
Jan 17 10:28 PM
MILWAUKEE 73 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 17 9:47 PM
MILWAUKEE 51 HALFTIME
Jan 17 9:08 PM
MILWAUKEE 31 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 17 8:38 PM
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