Biff! Smack! Pau! Milwaukee Bucks have no answers for Gasol in loss at Chicago


The Milwaukee Bucks tried everything to stop Pau Gasol at the United Center in Chicago Saturday night.

But Gasol was having none of it, outscoring the Bucks single-handedly in the first quarter on the way to a career-high 46 points as the Chicago Bulls snapped Milwaukee’s five-game road winning streak 95-87.

Final. 95. 24. 87. 89

The 34-year-old is in his first season with the Bulls, but matched the high-scoring game in the entire league this season with his explosion against Milwaukee.

Carmelo Anthony scored 46 points for the New York Knicks in a loss to the Utah Jazz on Nov. 14.

Gasol scored the game’s first seven points as Chicago opened a quick 7-0 lead and ended up with 20 in the first quarter as Chicago (26-12) opened a 29-19 lead.

Gasol got Zaza Pachulia in foul trouble. Then he got John Henson in foul trouble. The Bucks tried newly signed veteran Kenyon Martin for a while, but the 37-year-old played just six minutes before exiting with a chest contusion.

Martin did not return in the second half.

The four-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion was 17-for-30 from the floor, 12-for-13 from the foul line and also grabbed 18 rebounds in a ridiculously dominant performance.

“He was comfortable right from the first shot of the game,” coach Jason Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s won championships and he knows how to play the game the right way. You could see that (Saturday night). He dominated the game.”

Jan 10, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) shoots the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard Jared Dudley (9) during the second half at the United Center. The Chicago Bulls defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-87. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee (20-19) tried sending a second defender at Gasol to try to get him to give up the ball and even tried 6-foot-7 Jared Dudley on him.

Absolutely nothing worked.

“It’s going to be tough to swallow,” said an angry Pachulia. “This being the NBA, you’re going to have another opportunity pretty soon.

“We tried different things. He got it going from the beginning. He’s a good player; I’m not taking anything from him. But it’s hard for me to forget this game.”

Gasol’s previous career high had been 44 points in a game against the Seattle SuperSonics in March 2006 when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jan 10, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Kenyon Martin (6) shoots the ball against Chicago Bulls guard E’Twaun Moore (55) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Gasol is averaging 18.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this season. The scoring average is his highest since the 2010-11 season with the Lakers and his rebounding matches his career high set with Los Angeles in 2009-10.

Milwaukee ended a stretch of five games in seven days with a 3-2 mark over that span. The loss knocked the Bucks back into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, percentage points behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chicago is fourth in the East and opened a 6½-game lead over the Cavaliers and Milwaukee in the Central Division.

The Bucks trailed 48-39 at halftime, but Khris Middleton’s layup early in the third quarter capped a 12-2 run for Milwaukee and propelled the Bucks to a 51-50 lead.

It was their only lead of the night, however, as the Bulls responded by scoring 10 straight points—four by Gasol—to go up 60-51.

Milwaukee got as close as four points early in the fourth quarter, but Chicago pushed its lead to double digits with about 6½ minutes remaining and it stayed there until the closing seconds.

It was good for the Bulls that Gasol went off the way he did—the rest of the club was just 18-for-58 from the floor (31 percent). Chicago shot 39.8 percent on the night.

Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 20 points and five assists. Dudley chipped in 15 points, O.J. Mayo scored 12 points to go with two blocks and Middleton had 11 points. John Henson finished with seven rebounds, six points and four blocked shots. Johnny O’Bryant also blocked a pair of shots as the Bucks finished with 10 on the night.

On a positive note, Milwaukee only had 11 turnovers after committing 49 in their previous two games.

Kirk Hinrich added 16 points for the Bulls and former Marquette standout Jimmy Butler had a career-high 10 assists to go with eight rebounds and nine points.

The Bulls demolished the Bucks on the glass 51-37.

Chicago improved to 2-0 against Milwaukee this season. The Bulls also beat the Bucks 95-86 at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Nov. 5. They meet again in Chicago on Feb. 23 and wrap up the season series at Milwaukee on April 1.

The Bucks leave Sunday night for London, where they will “host” the New York Knicks (5-35) at O2 Arena on Thursday. The Knicks lost Saturday to the Charlotte Hornets, 110-82. It was their 15th straight loss.

The Bucks are 2-0 this year against New York, with a 117-113 win in Milwaukee Nov. 18 and a 95-82 win at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 4. The teams play again in New York on April 10.

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