National Basketball Association
Bucks-Bobcats Preview
National Basketball Association

Bucks-Bobcats Preview

Published Dec. 22, 2013 3:45 p.m. ET

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.


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