Bulls Stampede over Bucks, Take Eighth Place

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Bulls Stampede over Bucks, Take Eighth Place
The Bulls throttled Milwaukee on Friday night, 117-102, in Chicago. With the victory, Chicago pulled ahead of the Bucks in the standings, claiming sole possession of the eighth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

The new-look Bulls, winners of six of their last 10, employed a balanced game plan throughout the night. They were led by Ben Gordon's 34 points, one of five Bulls to score in double figures.

Derrick Rose scored 27 points on 10-of-18 field goals and 7-of-7 free-throw shooting. John Salmons, starting for the injured Luol Deng, chipped in 21. Joakim Noah continued his improvement, pulling down 13 rebounds.

Noah, who's been averaging more than 10 rebounds per game since the Bulls' Feb. 18 trades, is quietly establishing himself as a top center in the East. Noah's per-game rebounding average has climbed each month this season, is currently at 11.7 for March, and complements his 8 PPG and 2 BPG. 

Milwaukee had four players in double figures, led by Richard Jefferson with 27. But beyond that group, the rest of the Bucks could only muster 15 points while shooting 7-of-25 (28 percent). Milwaukee was playing without All-Star Michael Redd (out for the year) and center Andrew Bogut.

The rest of March will determine where the Bulls stand in the East. During the three-game road trip coming up, Rose and Gordon will lead Chicago into Miami, Orlando, and Philadelphia.

Later this month, the Bulls face Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, Miami, Indiana, and the L.A. Lakers in the United Center. They end their month with road games at Indiana and Toronto.

If those in the red and black can maintain their strong play, they should emerge from March in excellent playoff position. They close their season with five of their last six at home, where they have won five in a row and six of their last seven.

 

Notes:

Luol Deng has not played in the last three games since injuring his leg against Houston; he could return by the middle of next week, though reports conflict on the severity of his injury. They range from a stress fracture in his leg to a muscle pull...John Salmons, starting in his absence, is averaging better than 17 PPG and 5 RPG.

 

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