Kurt Thomas' 22 points lead Bulls to win over Bucks

CHICAGO -- While the Milwaukee Bucks were focused on stopping one of the league's young stars, one of the NBA's veterans gave the Chicago Bulls a big lift.

The 38-year-old Kurt Thomas scored 22 points and Derrick Rose added 21 points and 10 assists to lead the Bulls to a 92-83 win over the Bucks on Monday night.

"Kurt was hitting every shot and my job is to give it to him," Rose said. "They were playing two people on me when I'd drive the ball, so I was throwing it to him every time.

"He's the reason we won tonight."

Thomas, who is in his 16th NBA season, scored his most points since Jan. 25, 2005, when he scored 24 points against the Phoenix Suns while playing for the New York Knicks.

"Has it been that long?" Thomas asked after the game. "My goodness. I was just out there having fun. Derrick draws so much attention that he was able to find me and I was able to knock down a few shots tonight."

Thomas also had nine rebounds and five assists.

"They were really playing off me," Thomas said. "I knocked down my first two or three shots, so I just continued to fire away.

"I've been known as a guy that hit can that shot my whole career but the last couple of years, my shot attempts have been down. If it's there, I'm going to shoot it."

Chris Douglas-Roberts scored a season-high 30 points, one shy of his career high, for the Bucks. Andrew Bogut had eight points and 18 rebounds and Ersan Ilyasova added 17 points.

"I just tried to bring a little bit of energy to keep us in the game," Douglas-Roberts said. "If I'm not out there scoring and being aggressive, I'm really not of much value for us."

In the fourth quarter, Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute closed the deficit to eight points with a layup.

Luol Deng answered with a layup and a 3-pointer, putting Chicago up 75-62 with nine minutes left in the game.

"We keep coming back to being up by a lot and then giving it back," Deng said. "We've got to work on that."

The Bucks twice cut the lead to seven as the Bulls once again fell into a fourth-quarter funk on the offensive end and Douglas-Roberts stayed hot for Milwaukee.

Carlos Boozer responded with five of his 14 points down the stretch, pushing the lead to 88-77 with 1:52 to play. Milwaukee got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Rose's highlight-reel, twisting layup and subsequent free throw gave Chicago its biggest lead at 61-41 in the third quarter.

However, Douglas-Roberts got hot for Milwaukee, scoring 15 points in the third as the Bucks closed within 68-58 entering the final period.

"[Douglas-Roberts] got it going," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "It's great when he does."

The Bulls led 19-18 after a sluggish first quarter before Thomas scored eight points in the first three minutes of the second quarter, helping Chicago establish a lead.

"We did a very respectable job on Rose, Deng and Boozer," Skiles said. "We were too slow obviously getting back to Kurt. We fell for his pump fakes a little bit too much."

Thomas played last season with the Bucks and he was the primary replacement at center after Bogut went down with a season-ending elbow injury.

"Kurt had a great night for them," Bogut said. "He knows our stuff backwards, though. He knows where to get to and where our help is going to come from."

C.J. Watson's basket off a goaltending call capped a 10-0 run that put Chicago up 43-28. Rose finished the half with a layup at the buzzer, putting Chicago up 48-32 at the break.

The Bulls moved the ball well in the opening half and had 15 assists on their 17 first-half field goals. Bogut had 15 rebounds in the first half, 10 in the first quarter.

"[Ball movement] was the biggest thing [assistant coach Ron Adams] was talking about in the locker room," Rose said. "In the first half of the season, we were moving the ball well, then we kind of slipped."

Rose said that after Thomas got on his roll, he began calling for the ball on the offensive end.

"Yeah, sometimes," Rose said. "You know Kurt. If he hits a couple of shots, then he wants it every time."

Thomas is the elder statesman on a young Bulls team, but he showed that he's more than just a locker room presence.

"I mad that he's not a little bit younger so I could play with him a little bit more," Rose said. "I just cherish the time I have with him now."

The Bulls have played eight games over the past 13 days, but now have three days off before playing the Orlando Magic at home on Friday.

For Thomas, the league's second-oldest player behind Boston's Shaquille O'Neal, the rest comes just in time.

"We've played a lot of games over the last three weeks," Thomas said. "I definitely believe we'll benefit from the three-day rest."

Game notes
Milwaukee's Drew Gooden was a late scratch. He's been battling plantar faciitis in his left foot for much of the season. John Salmons, a former Bull, missed his fourth straight game with a hip injury. The Bucks are hopeful that Brandon Jennings, who has been out since Dec. 18 with a left foot injury, will be cleared to practice on Tuesday. ... The Bulls played their 21st straight game without center Joakim Noah, who had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hand. Chicago is 15-6 in his absence. Noah is expected back after the All-Star break. ... The Bulls improved to 10-0 against Central Division opponents. They are the league's only team with a perfect mark against division opponents. ... The Bulls are 26-1 when holding opponents to 95 points or fewer.

Check out the team sites for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Chicago Bulls for more game coverage.

NBA News