Bulls

LIVE: Bulls hope to stay hot in Milwaukee

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LIVE: Bulls hope to stay hot in Milwaukee

Saturday, March 26, 2011
CSNChicago.comAssociated Press

(AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks are trying their best to move into playoff position. Their first victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls this season would certainly help that cause.

Looking for their fourth win in five games, the Bucks try to avoid being swept in the season series by the surging Bulls on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.

Milwaukee (29-42) has not been to the playoffs in consecutive seasons 2003 and 2004, and still has some work left to do while trying to accomplish that feat once again. Though the Bucks are tied with Charlotte for ninth in the East, they're just two games behind Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Bucks bounced back from a miserable home loss to lowly Sacramento on Wednesday with a 102-96 win at New York on Friday. Brandon Jennings scored a season-high 37 points and Andrew Bogut added 21 with 17 rebounds as the NBA's worst-shooting team (42.9 percent) made 50.6-percent of their shots, and held the struggling Knicks to 40.0 percent from the field.

"We've just got to stay with it," swingman John Salmons told the Bucks' official website.

That means finding a way to beat the Bulls (52-19), who have won 11 of 12 and own a two-game lead over Boston in the East.

Though the Bucks have held Chicago to 88.3 points per contest in the previous three meetings in 2010-11, they have also shown why they are the NBA's lowest-scoring team by averaging just 78.3 percent on 38.6 percent shooting in the season series.

Milwaukee has not been swept in a season series by the Bulls since 2006-07, and Chicago held the Bucks to their lowest point total at home this season in an 83-75 win Feb. 26.

"Their defense is unbelievable this year," Milwaukee guard Earl Boykins said of the Bulls, who rank among the league leaders holding opponents to 91.2 points on 42.9 percent shooting.

Jennings was limited to four points on 2-of-6 shooting in his only appearance against the Bulls this season during the February home defeat, while Bogut finished with six but pulled down 16 rebounds. Bogut has totaled just 18 points on 8-of-33 shooting versus Chicago in 2010-11.

The Bulls used another solid defensive effort to overcome a 41.5-percent shooting effort and beat Memphis 99-96 at home Friday for their third straight win. Though the Grizzlies shot 49.3 percent from the field, the Bulls held them to 2 of 15 from 3-point range and owned a 45-32 rebounding advantage.

"There is no space right now," MVP hopeful Derrick Rose said. "We're just trying to win every game. Even if it's by one or two points, we'll take it."

Averaging a career-high 24.8 points, Rose scored 24, including Chicago's final six points and added seven assists Friday.

"MVP. He's my MVP," Memphis star Zach Randolph said of Rose, who has averaged 19.4 points in five career games at Milwaukee.

Winners in five of six on the road, Chicago has not won consecutive games in Milwaukee since the 2006-07 season.

Bucks guard Michael Redd could be in uniform Saturday for the first time since tearing ligaments in his left knee on Jan. 10, 2010.

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

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USA TODAY

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

Quincy Pondexter’s trade to Chicago makes him a newcomer. His birth certificate makes him a veteran. But it’s his story that makes him worth listening to.

Even in the eye of team chaos, Pondexter’s debut with the Bulls had such a special meaning that when he entered the game to start the second quarter, he thought he would come to tears.

Having been out of basketball the last two years after knee surgeries went bad, Pondexter came close to dying in a New York hospital in January when his organs began to fail after a MRSA infection.

Catching MRSA can often lead to death.

“It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. I prayed. My family was there close to me. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. It’s all God. This journey has been amazing.”

His journey took him from being in New Orleans, where his knee troubles started, to being an addition to the Bulls in a trade months ago when the Bulls picked up cash and a second-round pick from the Pelicans.

Pondexter joined high school teammate and close friend Robin Lopez on a team needing some leadership, and due to the punch Bobby Portis threw to Nikola Mirotic Tuesday afternoon, it put Pondexter in position to get on the floor as a backup power forward behind rookie Lauri Markkanen.

If the Bulls were smart, they’d probably put Pondexter in a room to talk to his teammates about his struggles, especially the two teammates who may have to share the same floor in several weeks.

“The competitive nature of our team has been really terrific and we wouldn't want to trade that for anything,” Pondexter said. “It hurts those two guys aren't here right now. But we love them and we love what they brought to this team.

“I think my age on my ID solidifies me as one of the veterans. When you do things the right way, that's what it means to be a veteran. Show up first, last one there. That's what it means to be a veteran. Establishing myself there and doing things that are right, the guys have followed and listened and embraced me and I love it.”

No word on whether Pondexter got teary-eyed when he got a breakaway steal and dunk for his first points since the 2015 playoffs, when the Pelicans were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Warriors.

“I know I’m going to get emotional on the court later on and probably tear up,” Pondexter said after the morning shootaround. “I told Robin that a thousand times. People don’t know what you’ve been through. There are a lot of times they’re not there besides your close family and friends. I appreciate them carrying me through this whole process.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can relate to Pondexter, with Hoiberg’s heart ailment cutting his career short. When the Bulls coach speaks about the frailty of the game and how precious things are in the NBA, Pondexter is living, breathing proof.

“I’m really really happy for Quincy. For a time there, his life was in danger with his infection. I know he’s really excited to get his career going again,” Hoiberg said. “I never got that opportunity to get back out there. I tell these guys to cherish it ever day. You never know when it can end. All of a sudden. For Quincy to get this chance, it’s awesome.”

Pondexter, with the straightest of faces, called basketball his “obsession” and he felt happy to get back on the floor, if even for a few minutes.

“I love it to death. It’s my life,” Pondexter said. “Basketball is what got me through it---my family and basketball. It was like, ‘How can I make this story even better? Do I quit?’ No. I watched so many inspirational movies, 'Hacksaw Ridge.' They get you through tough times because you say, ‘That’s going to be me.’ I’m going to be able to inspire someone down the road. That’s really helped me.”

A hamstring injury slowed Pondexter in training camp, which would explain his lack of explosive lift in the season opener.

No one was really sure if the Bulls would hold onto him for the season, but it’s clear he holds value beyond the box score. When he finished his media session, Lopez turned to Pondexter and said, “Now you’re stuck with me”, putting his arm around his teammate.

“Being able to play after two and a half years, it feels like hundreds of surgeries, getting traded to this organization. It's been a lot,” Pondexter said. “I wouldn't trade any of that for this moment right now and how I feel in my heart. I can't wait to get on this floor and play with my teammates and try to do something special. The journey is worth it.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Trounced by Raptors in season opener

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Trounced by Raptors in season opener

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Will Perdue break down the Bulls season opener vs the Raptors. They’ll explain why Bulls fans should be very happy with the debut of rookie Lauri Markkanen and Kendall points out why he expects the Markkanen/Lavine combo to be great on the offensive end. They’ll also go over their concerns at point guard, and Will shares his story of how Greg Popovich dealt with a losing Spurs team in 1996-97.