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Bulls blow 27-point third-quarter lead in loss to Bucks

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) walks off court after their 93-92 loss Milwaukee Bucks an NBA basketball game Monday

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) walks off the court after their 93-92 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Updated: December 28, 2012 6:28AM



What the rest of the Eastern Conference is thinking is no secret: Humble the Bulls now with Derrick Rose nothing more than an afterthought.

Not every opposing player is willing to admit the obvious. Milwaukee Bucks forward Drew Gooden was.

“I think definitely,’’ Gooden said when asked if the plan was to jump on the Bulls early in the season before Rose comes back from his injured left ACL. “More than just Derrick Rose, the team they had last year — losing Omer [Asik], losing [Kyle] Korver, [Ronnie] Brewer, those guys. I think the makeup of the team as a whole is a little different.

“And then not having Derrick Rose is a real difference, so to get a game against the Bulls right now, and vice versa for them, to get games without Derrick Rose, is something you look forward to.’’

Milwaukee missed out on that opportunity Saturday, but not twice in three days, breaking the hearts of the Bulls along the way in the rematch.

The Bucks came back from a 27-point deficit with 2:50 left in the third quarter and beat the Bulls 93-92 at the United Center. Milwaukee went on a 25-2 run to get back in the game.

The loss, the team’s fourth in its last five games, kept the Bulls (6-7) behind the first-place Bucks in the Central Division.

And, again, fourth-quarter problems cost them.

“We couldn’t get stops; we couldn’t get to the free-throw line,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They had 12 blocked shots, poor defense … it can happen fast. You can lose 10 points in an NBA game in a minute. Everyone says, ‘Ah, that doesn’t happen.’ I see it all the time.

“You got to play 48 minutes in this league, and we still have a long way to go in that area. They were down big, so they changed their lineup. Usually in our games when we play them, this is how it is. It’s hard-fought, and if you let your guard down, this is what happens.’’

Even after weathering the comeback by the Bucks earlier in the fourth, the Bulls still had control at the 7:52 mark when Richard Hamilton made a jumper to keep the lead at six. But the Bucks tied the game less than a minute later.

Hamilton, who scored a game-high 30 points, gave the Bulls the lead with 1:15 left, but Ekpe Udoh answered. Then it really got ugly for the Bulls when guard Beno Udrih missed a three-pointer but chased down his own rebound and was fouled.

Udrih did everything he could to give the game away, missing both free throws with a one-point lead, and the Bulls got the ball back with 7.5 seconds left and a chance to win it. Hamilton’s attempt clanked left, however, and Milwaukee twisted the dagger.

“You never have a game won until the final horn goes off,’’ Thibodeau said. “As soon as you start feeling good about yourself, you get knocked on your butt, and that’s what happened.’’

“We played terrible,’’ Bulls forward Luol Deng said. “We’re not playing like we need to play. We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on offensively and defensively. We’ve got to play together better, we’ve got to get stops. … There’s a lot of things we’ve got to do better. I can’t even point to one thing.’’



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