Vinny Del Negro likes to call his Bulls unpredictable, but Scott Skiles has seen the best and worst they offered Wednesday night so many times they were anything but for him.
Not that the Bulls are Skiles' concern anymore, particularly on a night his Bucks enjoyed a 97-90 victory at the Bradley Center and welcomed Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut back from injuries to start.
Still, Skiles has witnessed "The Ben Gordon Hot Streak" so many times, he didn't flinch when the explosive guard overcame a 1-for-9 start to drain seven straight third-quarter shots en route to a team-high 22 points and turn a 15-point Bucks lead into a three-point game.
Skiles also has seen the selfish shot selection that defined the Bulls' start to the fourth quarter. A taut game turned into a double-digit Bucks lead again when the Bulls missed nine of their first 10 shots and Milwaukee ripped off a 13-3 run.
The Bulls offered one final push. Back-to-back, conventional three-point plays from Derrick Rose brought them within 93-88 with 1 minute 56 seconds remaining. Dan Gadzuric and Gordon traded free throws, but Luol Deng drew an offensive foul on Richard Jefferson.
Rose drove to the rim and appeared to draw contact from Gadzuric with 37 seconds left. When no call came, the Bulls' bench erupted and Del Negro chased officials Eric Lewis and Marc Davis for an explanation, surprisingly avoiding his first career technical.
Gadzuric then finished off the Bulls with a put-back with 14 seconds remaining.
"A little bump, can't complain about it," said Rose, who had 18 points, nine assists and five turnovers. "They didn't call it. No excuses."
The Bulls shouldn't have any on a night they allowed 47 percent shooting, 23 points off the bench from Charlie Villanueva and 21 for Jefferson. They also got pushed around, particularly by Gadzuric, who had 11 points and 14 rebounds.
"We started sharing the ball more in the third quarter when Ben got hot, but we made mistakes down the stretch," Del Negro said. "We have to get guys to understand why it's important to share the ball."
On a night when Drew Gooden—1-for-16 the last two games—couldn't get anything going, the Bulls might have re-discovered Deng.
The forward has been quiet all season but established himself early, hitting 4 of 5 first-quarter shots off rare pin-downs called for him to score 10 points. He finished with 21 points as he moved well without the ball.
"I tried to be more aggressive," Deng said. "My shots were falling and, defensively, I was able to help a lot. I'm still making adjustments to try to figure out how to be effective in this offense."
Added Del Negro: "I think he can get better defensively and get more active. When he gets steals and is in passing lanes using his length and getting out running, it's a benefit to him. When he's slashing and cutting, no question he's good at that. I have to do a better job. Luol does too. And we know that."