Chicago Bulls Vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Two Seasons, Two Directions

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Ho Hum: Bulls Defeat Bucks 83-75, Stay Perfect In Central Division

Not even a year ago, a Bulls victory was something to be noted, relished and rehashed. Not so this season, as victories like Saturday's 83-75 grind-it-out win against the Bucks have become an expectation for Bulls fans. 

For once, Derrick Rose looked merely human as he struggled both shooting (7-19 fg) and passing (4 assists, 3 turnovers). The exciting thing for this team is that they no longer depend on Rose to carry the load every night. Luol Deng continued was has been his best professional season, leading the Bulls with 19 points including 8-8 from the charity stripe, and playing his usual fantastic defense. He is likely in line to make the NBA's All-Defensive Team if he keeps this up. Joakim Noah finally broke the rust off and dominated the glass with 17 rebounds, 9 of them offensive. The Bulls front line out-rebounded the Bucks 49-37, and despite a late run fueled by diminutive Earl Boykins, the outcome was seldom in doubt.

Milwaukee played without Chris Douglas-Roberts and Ersan Ilyasova, resulting in a 38% shooting night. To call it ugly would be kind. The Bradley Center sounded like the United Center North, with Rose being serenaded by MVP chants every time he touched the ball. 

It would be nice to see Carlos Boozer snap out of his mini-slump, to say nothing of Keith Bogans' continued and well-documented struggles. But the the return of Noah and the inspired play of Omer Asik has allowed Chicago to keep notching the win column in spite of it. You know your team has come together when someone different steps up every night. The Bulls now have 40 wins, a mark they didn't reach until the second-to-last day of the 2009-10 season. They remain undefeated in the Central Division at 12-0.

The Bulls travel next to Washington to face the Wizards Monday night, before a difficult stretch against the Hawks, Magic and Heat

Enjoy it, Bulls fans. Your team is more than good. The expectation of victories is a luxury reserved only for the NBA's elite.

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Chicago Bulls Vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Two Seasons, Two Directions

In a year already filled with amazing moments, Luol Deng's Heat-beater, his first true clutch basket in seven years with the Bulls, stands right there among them. With one pure corner three-pointer, the bitter taste of an idle trade deadline gave way to the reminder that this team has a shot to be special without adding a single piece.

The deadline firmly behind them, the Bulls (39-17) now begin a five-game road trip in Milwaukee where they face a team many predicted would be Chicago's main competition in the Central Division.

The Bucks (22-35) have struggled all year with injuries and simply cannot score the ball with any consistency. Add in a top-five defense coached by Scott Skiles and you basically have the Bulls circa 2003 - 2008. All you need to know about how the Bucks season has gone is this: the lead article on their NBA.com team site celebrates that their mascot Bango was named the best in the NBA by a Cartoon Network award show.

With the Magic and a rematch against the Heat looming, the now full-strength Bulls need to win the games they are supposed to. This is one of them. Tip-off at 7:30 CST. WGN has the call.

Follow the live tweets @rightfieldsucks.

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