Allen sinks Bulls amid boos, Bucks take 3-1 lead
7: 25 PM ET
CHICAGO — In the days leading up to the team’s first road playoff games in Chicago, the Milwaukee Bucks used every opportunity they could to shower Grayson Allen with boos. They booed Allen as he walked onto their bus. They booed Allen when he arrived at their hotel lobby. They booed him even during film sessions and when Allen touched a ball in practice. So when Allen set back to back playoff career highs in Games 3, and 4, to help Milwaukee take a 3-1 series lead over Chicago this weekend, the Bucks bench enjoyed booing Allen all the way.
“They have so much fun doing it,” Allen said with a laugh after scoring 27 points off the bench in the Bucks’ 119-95 victory Sunday afternoon. It’s truly hilarious. It’s become a lot of fun. It’s a lot easier to hear it during the game, too, since they find it so funny. “
Game 5 will be Wednesday night in Milwaukee. The Bucks started joking about their teammate earlier in the season after they heard Allen’s reaction to touching the ball in Chicago’s March game. Allen became public enemy No.1 to Chicago basketball fans after his flagrant foul on Bulls guard Alex Caruso during a game on Jan. 21 resulted in a fractured wrist for Caruso, forcing him to miss two months.
Allen said Sunday that he had attempted to reach out to Caruso to apologize after the incident, but the two never connected. Although the Bulls tried to minimize any animosity towards Allen in the lead up to the series however, fans at the United Center are not letting it go. They booed Allen every time he approached the scorer’s desk or touched the ball on offense during each game this season.
Even though he has been called a villain in Chicago for his actions, Allen said after Sunday’s game that he doesn’t feed off negative reactions.
“It’s not naturally comfortable for me,” Allen said. “It’s so bad that I have to remind myself to have fun every time I go to play basketball. … My personality is naturally sensitive to the attention, the booing, and the heckling. It’s not something that I take in. It’s not something I go out looking for. “
That hasn’t stopped Allen’s teammates from having fun with it.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo suggested Allen frame a photo from Game 3 in which the Bucks bench is in the background booing Allen as he heads to the free throw line after a converted and-1.
“He’s played amazing, maybe we got to boo him even more,” Antetokounmpo said with a smile after the game. “Maybe Milwaukee fans got to boo him… nah, that’s not going to happen. “
Added guard Jrue Holiday: “When we booed him during the game, and he really started hooping, I think we just stuck with it. “
After leading all scorers in Game 3 on Friday with 22 points, Allen was even better on Sunday afternoon.
Allen went 10-of-12 from the field on Sunday, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range, to outscore Chicago’s bench all by himself 27-17. He became the first Bucks player to score 25 points and knock down six 3s in a playoff game in team history and first Bucks player with at least 25 points off the bench since Tim Thomas in 2003, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. Allen also played defense, collecting three steals while holding Chicago to 3-of-8 shooting during his time as the primary defender.
Allen rebounded after going 0-for-4 from 3 to start the series in the first two games. His performance this weekend helped the Bucks withstand the loss of forward Khris Middleton, who will miss the rest of this first-round series with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
“He’s kind of quiet, but confident,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said about Allen. “I think this group is confident, a group that sees the player that can help them, and appreciates his competitiveness. He’s quiet and doesn’t bully —,, and he loves to play. This is what I believe our men gravitate to. It’s been a good match. “
By the time Allen checked into the game in between free throw attempts with 5: 50 remaining in the fourth quarter, the boos from the crowd at the United Center had gone from full-throated to halfhearted.
Chicago had waited five years for a home playoff game here, and the fans’ reward was a weekend of uncompetitive basketball. The Bulls were outscored by a combined score of 230-176 in the two games on their home floor and must win Wednesday to extend their season.
“You got to give [Allen] credit,” Bulls guard Zach LaVine said. “He’s making shots. … We know what happened [with the Caruso injury]. It’s basketball, at the end of it all. It’s something we understand. It’s not like we are saying, “That guy can’t beat me.” He’s part of the Milwaukee Bucks team and can’t beat us. They are beating us as a team.
” You can’t just blame him. It’s everybody. “
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.