Though they’re among the top defensive teams in the NBA, both the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Bobcats resembled nothing of the sort in their previous games.
The Bulls will try to regain a winning record and continue their dominance of the Bobcats when the teams meet Saturday night in Charlotte.
Chicago (21-21) is second in the league this season at 93.0 points allowed per game, while Charlotte (19-26) isn’t far behind in sixth at 97.3 – though neither team came close to those marks Friday.
The Bulls, coming off a three-game win streak that got them above .500, had one of their worst defensive performances in a 112-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Chicago gave up its second-most points in a regulation game this season and allowed the Clippers to shoot 53.9 percent overall and 13 for 21 from beyond the arc.
"Giving up 3s, we strive for five or less," said forward Taj Gibson, who had 18 points. "That was just crazy. We kept fighting. But once they give a team like that confidence, it’s hard to shut them off."
The Bobcats also struggled but in a far different way, allowing Carmelo Anthony to set both Knicks and Madison Square Garden scoring records with 62 points in New York’s 125-96 win over Charlotte. Anthony shot 23 of 35, including 6 of 11 from long range.
It was the highest point total a single player has ever scored against Charlotte.
"Melo. Enough said," Bobcats forward Al Jefferson said. "When he’s in one of those zones, ain’t nothing nobody can do about it."
The Bulls have gotten the better of the Bobcats in recent seasons, winning nine of the last 10 meetings – including all four visits to Charlotte by an average of 27.5 points. Chicago has limited Charlotte to 72.8 points over that stretch, yielding a measly 35.4 percent from the floor and 20.9 from 3-point range.
Chicago has won both matchups at home this season, including a 103-97 victory Jan. 11.
D.J. Augustin had 20 points and 12 assists off the bench in that one, but he’ll have a more prominent role this time. The guard is filling in at the point for injured Kirk Hinrich, who is slated to miss a third consecutive game with a strained right hamstring.
Augustin, though, managed just seven points with six assists Friday after scoring 27 in each of the previous two games.
The Bobcats are also expected to be without their starting point guard, Kemba Walker, who is nursing an ankle sprain. He leads the team this season with a career-best 18.7 points per game and 5.0 assists.
Jefferson, second on the team with an 18.6 scoring average, will try to continue picking up the scoring slack. He’s scored at least 20 in eight straight games, reaching that mark with 11 rebounds at Chicago earlier this month.
Since then, he’s averaging 26.0 points and 12.0 boards in seven games, and he’s managed 25.0 and 10.7 over his last six against the Bulls.
Jefferson will likely have to contend with Carlos Boozer, who had 22 points and nine rebounds Friday after sitting out a game with a sore left calf. The forward, though, has put up 13.1 points and 9.7 boards per game in his past seven meetings with Charlotte.