With their star guard done for the season, the Chicago Bulls
hope their current leading scorer is healthy enough to get back on
Luol Deng could return from a one-game absence when the Bulls
try to get back on track and avoid a third consecutive home loss to
the lowly Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Averaging 19.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists, Deng is day
to day with an Achilles’ injury that kept him out of Chicago’s
92-75 defeat to visiting Detroit on Saturday.
With another season-ending knee injury to Derrick Rose and guard
Jimmy Butler still out due to a toe injury that has sidelined him
the past nine games, the Bulls (8-10) can’t afford to be without
another key contributor.
“My mindset is to be ready for (Tuesday’s) game,” said Deng, who
has averaged 26.2 points in his last six contests.
After going 10 of 19 from 3-point range in a 107-87 win over
Miami on Thursday, the Bulls went 3 of 18 from beyond the arc while
losing to the Pistons for the first time in 15 home games.
Starting for Deng, Taj Gibson had team highs of 21 points and 10
rebounds for Chicago, which was outscored 24-9 in the third quarter
in posting its lowest point total of the season and losing for the
seventh time in nine contests.
“It’s the challenge of the league,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“You have a good win, and then the thing that you’re concerned with
is how quickly everything can change.”
Thibodeau has been able to rely on Gibson, who has averaged 21.4
points and 8.4 boards in the last five games.
After scoring 16 points in 33 minutes Saturday, Chicago’s Mike
Dunleavy could continue to see more time, especially if Deng is
out. The veteran forward scored a season-high 23 in 48 minutes of a
131-128 triple-overtime loss to New Orleans last Monday.
The Bucks (4-16) had dropped 12 of 13 at Chicago before winning
both meetings at the United Center last season by a combined nine
points. Milwaukee, however, has the worst record in the Eastern
Conference and followed Friday’s 109-105 overtime win at Washington
with a 90-82 home loss to injury-riddled Brooklyn the next
O.J. Mayo had 22 points for the Bucks, who played without
injured center Zaza Pachulia for a second straight game and were
unable to keep Nets center Brook Lopez from scoring a season-high
“As sharp as we were in Washington, we were two steps behind,
for whatever reason,” coach Larry Drew said. “This is the NBA. You
go through stretches of the highs and the lows. We’ve got to get
used to that. We’ve got to man up. We came out (Saturday) and
didn’t play with the juice we had Friday.”
Mayo has averaged 16.1 points in the last seven games after
totaling 27 in the previous four.
While playing for Memphis and Dallas the past five seasons, Mayo
averaged 17.8 points and went 9 of 16 from 3-point range in his
first five games against the Bulls. However, he was 2 of 12 from
beyond the arc and averaged 5.4 points in his last five matchups