MILWAUKEE – Within disappointment at the moment was encouragement for the future for the visitors on Sunday.

While the Bulls couldn’t quite pull out a win over the favored Bucks in Game 1 of their first round series, their defensive pressure and aggressiveness showed they could hang with the defending NBA champions. If they could just make a few more shots, and have their best players find their form again, a competitive series might be in store.

Right from the start on Wednesday, the Bulls proved that true as they resisted every rebuttal from the hosts to even the series.

The hot shooting, stingy defending visiting team got out to a 14-point halftime lead over Milwaukee in Game 2 Wednesday night and never gave it up. Despite a few runs by the Bucks, the Bulls would stay ahead for good in a 114-110 victory that tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

It’s the first playoff victory for the Bulls since April 18, 2017, when they defeated the Celtics in Boston in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round series. They would lose the last four games of that series and Game 1 of this round with the Bucks, but the losing streak stopped Wednesday night.

Guard DeMar DeRozan, who was 6-for-25 in Game 1, rallied to score a playoff career-high of 41 points on 16-of-31 shooting. His layup with 18 seconds left finally put the game away as his team held off a number of Milwaukee comebacks over the course of 48 minutes.

Nikola Vucevic would finish with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting with 13 rebounds while Zach LaVine shot 7-of-13 from the field including 3-of-4 from behind the arc to get 20 points. After shooting poorly in Game 1, the Bulls would hit 49.4 percent of their shots and hit 12-of-25 three-point attempts.

The first half signaled what was to come as the Bulls reversed the start of Game 1 by going up 9-0 on the Bucks in an early stretch that included three steals. That was a sign of what was to come over the first 24 minutes as the Bulls would stifle the Milwaukee offense in the early going.

Meanwhile, the visitor’s shooting improved drastically as the Bulls hit 48.6 percent of their shots including 7-of-14 from behind the arc in the first half. DeRozan led the effort with 17 points while Alex Caruso provided a spark on both sides of the floor with six assists and two of the Bulls’ ten steals for the half.

Things only got better at the beginning of the second half as DeRozan put the Bulls up by 18 with a jumper with 7:38 remaining in the third period. Slowly Milwaukee would crawl back into the game and a hoop by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 42 seconds to go in the quarter put the Bucks within three.

Once again, the Bulls pushed the lead back over double digits with a 13-0 run that brought the advantage to 16 points. DeRozan had eight points in that stretch with Vucevic chipping in the other five points. The Bucks again would chip away and get the lead down to three with 56 seconds left when Brook Lopez got a hoop-and-foul.

DeRozan would finally put the Bucks away with 18 seconds to go with a driving layup to the hoop that brings this first round series to even.