George Karl shuffled his lineup, and it wasn't based on speed or size, but on heart.
"At halftime, I just decided I was going to go with more than a shooting team or a big team. I was just going to go with my best attitude team," Karl said after the Milwaukee Bucks came back to beat Chicago 81-76 Monday night for the third victory over the Bulls in 20 days.
And the core of Karl's attitude team was Michael Curry, whose 15-foot jumper put Milwaukee ahead for the first time -- and for good -- at 75-74 with 3:07 left.
"I told Karl, when he needs me, I'll be there," said Curry, whose basket capped a 13-3 spurt.
"I thought Michael Curry's guts was very obvious on the court for us. I don't think we win this game without Michael," Karl said. "He gave us the confidence, the defense, the energy and also made some shots to go with it to help us win the game."
Allen finished with 17 points, including eight after the confrontation with Kukoc, which occurred with the Bulls ahead 69-62.
Kukoc scored just one more basket and missed two 3-pointers that would have tied it in the waning seconds.
"Ray Allen looked like he got a little chapped and started driving to the basket," Bulls coach Tim Floyd said.
The Bucks made it three straight over the Bulls for the first time since 1994-95, during Michael Jordan's first retirement.
"I guess we've got to be more aggressive," Kukoc said.
The Bucks began the third quarter with a 13-3 run to erase a 10-point halftime deficit and tie it at 50. But Brown had three baskets in a 15-4 Chicago run that gave the Bulls a 65-54 lead after three quarters.
Chicago led by as many as 15 in the second quarter and took a 47-37 halftime lead.
Karl was so upset with his starters after they came out lackadaisical that he pulled Robert Traylor, Robinson, Brandon and Allen with 4:41 left in the first quarter and the Bulls ahead 17-9. Tyrone Hill, joined them 20 seconds later with his second foul.
"Boy it was ugly," Karl said. "I thought we came out flat. I thought Chicago did a great job preparing for some of our offensive stuff and controlled us. We didn't have a defensive attitude in the game and they got off to a big lead. "
"I was encouraged on how we fought back."
"I think that was the key to us overcome our deficit was the fact that we shifted around our lineup," Allen said. "That gave us some momentum right there. It was just a different look for us. We started out lethargic and they made some great shots and that had the momentum. "
"We stole it back, plain and simple."
Thanks to a little guts and a lot of heart.
- The Bucks were outshot 50-28 percent from the floor in the first half, but managed to stay in it by hitting 13 of 15 free throws.
- Bucks backup swingman Jerald Honeycut had two teeth pulled Monday and wasn't in uniform.
- Entering this season, Chicago had won 12 straight against Milwaukee.
- Karl said he didn't anticipate trading Brandon, despite persistent rumors about his availability.
- Hill has publicly spoken about his desire to be traded, especially if Brandon goes. Hill met with team owner Sen. Herb Kohl on Sunday, but declined to discuss the meeting: "Anything about my contract or career is between me and Sen. Kohl and (general manager) Bob Weinhauer," he said.
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