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Bucks’ strong second half enough for victory over Bulls

Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (9) drives on Milwaukee Bucks small forward Mike Dunleavy (17) in the second quarter at the United Center on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois.
Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (9) drives on Milwaukee Bucks small forward Mike Dunleavy (17) in the second quarter at the United Center on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois.

(MCT) — CHICAGO — New coach Jim Boylan chuckled pregame Wednesday night when asked if he discussed what happened the last time the Bucks visited the United Center.

“I don’t think you want to bring up the fact you were down 27 points midway through a third quarter,” Boylan said.

This time, the Bucks “only” trailed by 15 in the opening period, but the comeback carried the same weight. Preventing the Bulls from posting their first, four-game winning streak this season, the Bucks stormed back behind a scintillating performance from Brandon Jennings for a 104-96 triumph.

Jennings scored 20 of his opponent-season-high 35 points in the third period, mocking Nate Robinson’s winged airplane routine on two of his four 3-pointers in the period. Robinson, starting for the injured Kirk Hinrich, punctuated his 13 first-quarter points with several demonstrative gestures.

“I really don’t take kindly to trash talking because I don’t do a lot of trash talking,” Jennings said. “I warned him. And then I got ticked off at halftime and just attacked.”

That the Bucks rallied despite beating the Suns at home on Tuesday while the Bulls rested made the victory all the more impressive. Boylan is 2-0 since replacing the departed Scott Skiles on Monday, getting 16 points and four 3-pointers off the bench from Mike Dunleavy.

“We had a good edge to start but then we started trading buckets,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They got to every loose ball, made the effort plays. In the first half, we moved the ball. In the second half, we didn’t, which led to their 15 blocked shots.”

That’s the most blocks for a Bulls’ opponent since the Magic had the same on April 6, 2005. Larry Sanders posted seven as the Bulls shot 29.8 percent in the second half.

“Larry’s presence around the basket is intimidating,” Boylan said. “Guys go in there and they’re looking for him.”

Robinson disputed this as vehemently as he disputed his duel with Jennings got out of hand, emphasizing on the former that the Bulls kept attacking the basket. As for the latter, Robinson said the trash talking is “just basketball.”

Robinson finished with 19 points, six assists, five rebounds and a career-high-tying five steals, so it’s not like he got distracted. Still, Thibodeau was asked if he would rather see Robinson keep his emotions in check.

“It’s a competitive game,” Thibodeau said. “Some guys do it and they’re fine. To me, if you do it and that’s the way you are and you’re not distracted ... I prefer just to concentrate on doing your job.”

Translated: Yes.

The Bulls’ last gasp faded when Marco Belinelli missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 69 seconds left and failed to close a 100-96 deficit. Belinelli later followed with a frustration foul on Sanders, who blocked his attempt on the next possession.

Carlos Boozer posted 22 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, his longest streak as a Bull.

“Having Kirk out was a huge factor because of the pressure he applies to Brandon in the backcourt,” Boylan said.

Didn’t look like much could stop Jennings.

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