Bulls-Bucks Preview

Milwaukee beat Chicago earlier this week in the season’s first

matchup between these injury-riddled foes.

The reeling Bulls expect to be a little healthier Friday night

when they look to avenge that defeat and try for a seventh

consecutive road win over the Bucks.

With Derrick Rose done for the season and fellow starters Luol

Deng (Achilles), Jimmy Butler (toe) and Joakim Noah (thigh) out,

Chicago (8-12) shot 37.3 percent during Tuesday’s 78-74 home loss

to a Milwaukee team that had nine players.

John Henson had 25 points with 14 rebounds and six blocks while

Brandon Knight overcame six turnovers by adding 19 with 10 boards

for the Bucks (5-17), who played without Caron Butler (knee), Gary

Neal (plantar faciitis), Zaza Pachulia (foot) and Larry Sanders

(thumb).

“They’re missing guys. We’re missing guys,” Knight said. “But at

the end of the day, that’s how it’s going to be (in) NBA

basketball. You’re never going to have all your guys, more than

likely.”

Noah is expected to play in the rematch after he returned to the

lineup Wednesday in New York. Though the Bulls rallied from a

23-point deficit, they fell 83-78 for their third straight defeat

and ninth in 11 contests.

Chicago, which has shot 34.7 percent while averaging 75.7 points

in the last three games, has not scored fewer than 80 in four

consecutive contests since Nov. 24-Dec. 1, 2001.

“We just got to stick together as a team,” Noah told the Bulls’

official website after he finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds

in 36 minutes. “We’ve been losing a lot of tough games right now,

but we can’t pout. We have to stick together through the hard

times.”

While Butler likely will sit for a 12th straight game, it’s

uncertain if Deng will miss his fourth in a row. The veteran small

forward has averaged 26.2 points over his last six contests.

Ex-Buck Mike Dunleavy has stepped up in his absence, averaging

20.0 points in the last three. After scoring a season-high 24 on

9-of-15 shooting versus Milwaukee, he had 20 but missed 17 of 24

shots against the Knicks.

The Bulls have averaged 99.0 points and shot 47.6 percent during

their six-game winning streak at Milwaukee, though they figure to

be hard-pressed to post that type of production in their current

state.

The Bucks are hardly an offensive juggernaut, either. Milwaukee

averages 86.9 points at home – the worst in the league by nearly

five points – and dropped to 2-9 there with Wednesday’s 109-77 loss

to San Antonio.

Tim Duncan had 21 points to outscore the Bucks’ starters by two

as the Spurs shot 52.3 percent.

“We did not compete on a high level,” said coach Larry Drew,

whose team shot 34.5 percent and trailed wire-to-wire for the third

time this season. “We can’t use excuses of injuries or having

played (consecutive nights). We didn’t lay it on the line. We

didn’t play as hard as we should have.”

Reserve guard Nate Wolters had 18 points and fellow rookie

Giannis Antetokounmpo added 15 for the Bucks, who hope to at least

have Neal back after he missed the last two contests.

Milwaukee’s O.J. Mayo averages a team-leading 14.4 points and

had 22 during a 90-82 home loss to Brooklyn on Saturday, but has

totaled 10 on 3-of-16 shooting in the last two games.