Mike Dunleavy mixes it up — will suspension follow?

SHARE Mike Dunleavy mixes it up — will suspension follow?

MILWAUKEE — If nothing else is gleaned from a first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks that turned annoyingly long for the Bulls, take comfort in knowing these teams don’t like each other. At all.

A simmering rivalry going forward with our seldom-relevant neighbors to the north? We’ll take it.

The teams’ six-game first-round series opened with Bucks big man Zaza Pachulia beating up on Nikola Mirotic and closed here Thursday with a trio of skinny dudes playing the parts of enforcers.

In the first quarter of the Bulls’ 120-66 victory, Mike Dunleavy delivered a two-fisted shot to the neck area of Bucks point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who made a brief trip to the locker room to receive medical attention. No foul was called on the play, a laughable whiff by the refs.

In the second quarter, Giannis Antetokounmpo drew a bead on Dunleavy and — a full second after Dunleavy released an on-target three-pointer — laid him out with a forearm and shoulder hit that called to mind the NFL draft being held back in Chicago. Antetokoumpo, a terrific young player, was ejected.

Carter-Williams high-lowed Dunleavy all by himself in the third, leaving Dunleavy — despite having been smacked in the head — doubled over with discomfort in the most sensitive of below-the-waist areas.

Visibly upset after the game, Carter-Williams was shielded from media questions by teammate O.J. Mayo.

“Nah, nah. You’re good, bro,” Mayo told a reporter, shooing him away.

Might Dunleavy — who led all scorers with 20 points — face punishment from the league for his aggressive act against Carter-Williams? A Game 1 suspension doesn’t seem out of the question.

“I don’t want to comment on it,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Dunleavy was unapologetic.

“[The Bucks] had some momentum in the series,” he said. “They won a couple in a row, and we came out on their court and put it on them. For anyone that’s been there before, that’s frustrating. I can understand that. Things happen.”

Duty rest? Nope

Over the course of the third quarter, a preposterous 32-point Bulls halftime lead grew to 39. And yet 34-year-old seven-footer Pau Gasol was on the floor for every second of the period.

Which was only about half as head-scratching as seeing banged-up center Joakim Noah on the court with the lead closing in on 50 points midway through the final quarter.

On average, Bulls starters played close to 30 minutes in the biggest blowout victory in franchise history. Why?

“You’re always concerned about the [three-point shot] and a team making up ground quickly,” Thibodeau actually said.

Noah had little interest in entertaining the subject.

“I’m not a young boy,” he said. “I’m focused and excited for this opportunity. Control what I can control.”

Runner-up for Mirotic

Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic finished second in the league’s rookie of the year voting, trailing only Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins. Mirotic averaged 10.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 82 regular-season games and had a huge March, scoring 20.8 a game.

“First of all, congratulations to Wiggins,” Mirotic said. “He played all the year great. Right now, the only thing on my mind is to be focused. I think it was a great first-year regular season. So right now, being in the playoffs is a new experience. So that’s amazing to me.”

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg

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