MILWAUKEE – Mike Dunleavy hit a 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left and Joakim Noah came up with a block on the other end, leading the Bulls to a 91-90 comeback victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
Trailing by two in the final seconds, the Bulls came up with a tie-up on the defensive end and won the jump ball, allowing Dunleavy to hit a high-arching 3 for the lead.
Noah then blocked O.J. Mayo’s shot to preserve the lead – and a victory that appeared unlikely just seconds before.
Noah scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Bulls, who ended a three-game losing streak. The Bulls scored fewer than 80 points in all three losses – including one to Milwaukee on Tuesday at the United Center.
Jimmy Butler scored 16 points in his return from injury for the Bulls. Carlos Boozer scored 14 points and added 12 rebounds.
Gary Neal scored 17 points and John Henson added 15 for the Bucks, who appeared to have the game won when Khris Middleton hit a desperation shot with 29.8 seconds left. Instead, it was another disappointment.
After the Bulls scored twice to start the fourth quarter and cut the Bucks’ lead to 69-66, Milwaukee went on a 12-4 run to take an 11-point lead with 7:37 remaining.
The Bulls chipped away at the lead, cutting it to three on a pair of free throws by Butler with 2:33 left. But Henson passed to a wide-open Ekpe Udoh on the baseline and Udoh delivered an emphatic dunk for an 88-83 lead with 1:30 left.
Mayo then fouled Dunleavy on a 3-point attempt, and Dunleavy hit all three free throws to cut the lead to two. After a Milwaukee miss, Boozer made a game-tying jumper with 54.9 seconds left.
Middleton then hit a desperation shot with the clock running out, giving Milwaukee a two-point lead. Butler was called for traveling on the other end and the game appeared to be all but over – but it was only setting the stage for Dunleavy’s big moment.
While Derrick Rose’s season-ending knee injury has garnered the most attention, it hasn’t been the only critical injury for Chicago this season. Butler missed 11 games because of a toe injury and the Bulls are still without Luol Deng, who remains sidelined with a sore left Achilles.
Chicago added some depth earlier in the day Friday, signing free agent guard D.J. Augustin. Augustin, who previously played for the Toronto Raptors, was scoreless in 11-plus minutes in his Bulls debut.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game that the team would count on Augustin to add outside scoring — something Chicago has been lacking early in the season. The Bulls came into Friday’s game ranked 26th in the league in 3-point field goal percentage.
NOTES: Bucks coach Larry Drew says forward Larry Sanders has been fitted with a protective glove and cleared to resume some basketball activities, but there is no timeline for his return from a thumb injury. ... Thibodeau said Deng is feeling better and could be available for Saturday’s game against Toronto. ... Neal returned after missing two games because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.