MILWAUKEE – Michael Redd scored 27 points and rookie Yi Jianlian added 16 to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Chicago Bulls 78-72 on Saturday night for their first victory of the season.

With the win, Milwaukee snapped a 15-game losing streak to Central Division opponents dating back to last season, and kept the Bulls winless through the first week of the season.

Hounded by defensive lapses in their first two games, the Bucks held the Bulls in check. It was a miserable night for the Chicago’s starters. Ben Gordon scored 15, but the rest of the starting five – Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Wallace, Kirk Hinrich – were held to single digits.

Milwaukee led by nine after two free throws by Redd with 3:16 remaining. But Hinrich drove to the basket for a layup, cutting the lead to seven. Andres Nocioni hit a layup to cut the lead 75-70 with 2:01 remaining, and the teams traded missed shots until Redd was called for an offensive foul with 33.7 seconds left.

Hinrich and Nocioni missed shots on the other end, and Gordon fouled Milwaukee’s Charlie Bell with 11.4 remaining. Bell hit one of two free throws.

Deng hit a layup with 9 seconds left, cutting the lead to 76-72, but Redd was fouled and hit two free throws for the final margin.

The Bucks began the season by losing their first two games on the road, at Orlando on Wednesday and at Charlotte on Friday.

Chicago also opened with a pair of losses, at New Jersey on Wednesday and at home to Philadelphia on Friday. The Bulls might have been distracted by a swarm of trade rumors involving a potential deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that would have brought Kobe Bryant to Chicago, but Bulls general manager John Paxson declared on Thursday that no deal was imminent, scuttling trade talk at least for the time being.

Bulls coach Scott Skiles has been frustrated by his team’s energy level in the first few games of the season, especially after their 11-point home loss to the 76ers on Friday.

But energy certainly wasn’t a problem for Yi, who scored eight points in the first half. He played a key role in keeping Milwaukee in the game in the third quarter.

Yi’s jumper tied the game at 37 with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Milwaukee’s Dan Gadzuric blocked the Bulls’ Thomas on the other end, and Bucks guard Mo Williams found Yi with a pass for another long rainbow jumper that put the Bucks ahead 39-37.

With Milwaukee trailing by two later in the quarter, Yi blocked a shot by Thomas and Redd hit a jumper to tie the game at 43. Redd hit 3-pointers on the Bucks’ next two possessions, putting Milwaukee ahead 49-43 with 2:39 left in the third quarter.

The Bucks have won their last five home openers – and now have their first victory against a division foe since their win over Detroit in the opener last season.

AP-ES-11-03-07 2311EDT

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