Kris Dunn, Bulls beat Bucks again, ignore rebuild talk

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MILWAUKEE — Bulls point guard Kris Dunn is always in attack mode.

That is, until Tuesday.

Asked if he has ever been associated with a fan base that wants to see its team lose, as many Bulls fans do this season, Dunn smiled and shook his head.

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“I’ve never heard of that in my life, and that’s why it’s really hard to answer that question,’’ Dunn said. “It’s like, who doesn’t like winning? It’s almost a lose-lose situation by answering that question.

“We’re not going to go out there to lose. We work hard every single day. We’re professionals at the end of the day, people have families. Our job is not to lose on purpose.

“The last few weeks haven’t been an accident. We feel like we can play with anyone.’’

The Bucks found that out once again. The Bulls beat them for the second time in the last few weeks, this time 115-106 at the Bradley Center.

The Bulls won for the eighth time in their last 10 games to improve to 11-22.

So much for tanking for the rebuild.

“That’s a belief,’’ Dunn said, taking it a step further and not backing down from talking about a playoff push. “You gotta set goals for yourself. Eventually, if you do that, you can achieve them. We’re not going to go out here and say we’re going to lose a bunch of games. We set goals for ourselves, and we showed them in the last few weeks. We’re together, we play hard, play physical, and when we’re executing, we can play with any team. We honestly believe that.’’

A belief made possible since Nikola Mirotic returned.

The Bulls had lost 10 consecutive games without Mirotic. They’re 8-2 with him back in the rotation. In those 10 games, Mirotic has scored 20 or more points in five, including Tuesday, when he scored 24.

And don’t discount his defense.

Mirotic not only has provided instant offense, but he has been key in making sure the communication is working on the defensive end.

“Obviously, look at our record since Niko’s been back, but another key is we got David [Nwaba] back at that same time,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You’ve got two guys out there that understand what you’re trying to do. Two guys that are going to go out there and battle whoever they’re guarding. You look at our defense and where it’s gone since Niko’s been back, since David’s been back, and that’s been a big difference in our team.’’

Then there was Dunn, who continues to excel in his second season in the NBA. The point guard not only scored 20 points, but he handed out 12 assists.

He also continued to show that edge that scouts loved when he was in college. Dunn got tangled up with Khris Middleton with 16.9 seconds left in the game. The two crashed to the floor and had to be separated.

Each player was handed double technical fouls and ejected from the game. Dunn explained afterward he won’t back down from anyone.

“At that point and time, it doesn’t really matter who it is,’’ Dunn said of the incident. “I just try and protect myself. We got tangled up, went down to the ground, leave it at that.

“Once they told me I was ejected, I just walked away.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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