Bucks-Bobcats Preview

The return of Caron Butler helped the injury-ravaged Milwaukee

Bucks pick up a rare victory with their best offensive showing of

the season.

If previous meetings are any indication, the performance might

be difficult to replicate against the defensive-minded Charlotte

Bobcats.

The Bucks look to win consecutive games for the first time this

season Monday night when they visit the Bobcats, who seek their

fourth victory in five games.

After missing 12 contests due to a swollen left knee, Butler

came up big in his return with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four

assists to help Milwaukee (6-21) snap a five-game losing streak

with a 116-106 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday.

“The thing this team has desperately missed from him is his

leadership,” coach Larry Drew said. “Throughout the game he was on

the court talking, pumping his teammates up. We had a couple of bad

stretches, but he kept the guys positive.”

Despite Butler’s return, Drew’s club was still without John

Henson (knee), Ersan Ilyasova (ankle), Zaza Pachulia (foot), Gary

Neal (foot), Carlos Delfino (foot) and Larry Sanders (hand).

Help could be on the way, however, with Henson and Neal possibly

returning against the Bobcats. Henson has averaged 18.7 points and

12.3 rebounds in his last three games.

Khris Middleton, the only player to appear in all 27 games,

stepped up with 27 points and Brandon Knight added 21 on Saturday.

Middleton has averaged 20.3 points, while Knight scored 24.7 per

game over the last three – which included a pair of overtime

losses.

Though the Bucks are near the bottom of the league in scoring

(91.9) and field-goal percentage (42.0), they reached season highs

in both categories with 52.4 percent shooting against the

76ers.

Milwaukee hasn’t been able to generate much offensively against

the Bobcats (13-15), totaling 148 points on 34.3 percent shooting

while dropping the first two meetings by a combined 40 points.

O.J. Mayo, averaging a team-high 13.9 points, has totaled nine

while missing 14 of 18 shots in the two games.

The Bobcats are among the NBA’s leaders in defensive scoring

(93.0) and field-goal percentage (42.6), and they’ve limited

opponents to an average of 87.7 points on 38.3 shooting in their

last three home games.

Charlotte, however, failed to score more than 85 for the third

time in four games there as its overall three-game winning streak

ended with an 88-85 loss to Utah on Saturday.

Al Jefferson finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds against his

former team, but missed two easy chances to put the Bobcats ahead

down the stretch. The victory would have gotten them back to .500

on the season.

“We did a good job defensively and gave ourselves a chance to

win but the ball didn’t go in,” said coach Steve Clifford, who lost

forward Jeffery Taylor for the season due to a torn right

Achilles.

Jefferson has averaged 22.3 points and 13.0 boards over his last

three games, and has put up 21.8 points and 10.0 rebounds in his

last four against the Bucks.

Kemba Walker, who had 20 points, has scored 26.2 per game while

shooting 62.3 percent in his last five, though he totaled 21 on

8-of-20 shooting in the two meetings with Milwaukee.

Gerald Henderson helped pick up the scoring slack with a

combined 36 points, hitting 14 of 25 shots in those contests.

The Bobcats have won the last three meetings overall and eight

of nine in Charlotte.