Bucks-Bulls Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 26, 2012
The Chicago Bulls have hardly been hindered by the rash of injuries that has hit several key players. They'll now face a Milwaukee Bucks team that will be without one of its starters. Chicago goes for its fifth straight win over Milwaukee on Thursday night, with the Bulls likely to be missing Luol Deng while the Bucks will be without Andrew Bogut. Chicago (16-4) suffered its first home loss of the season Wednesday, 95-90 to an Indiana team that's now 12-5. The Bulls, owners of the best record in the Eastern Conference, had won four in a row - all against teams with losing records. Deng sat out his second straight game with a torn ligament in his left wrist. He hopes to avoid surgery, but the forward is expected to miss a few games, with coach Tom Thibodeau calling him "week to week." Deng is second on the team with 15.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Derrick Rose says he isn't 100 percent because of a sprained toe that kept him out several games, while top reserve Taj Gibson (ankle sprain) didn't play Wednesday. Center Joakim Noah has also struggled with a sprained ankle, while guard John Lucas III has missed three straight games with a left groin strain. Ronnie Brewer started in Deng's place against the Pacers and had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Richard Hamilton scored 17 points, but shot 6 for 20. The Bulls have had enough depth to overcome the health issues to this point, but their depleted roster is about to be severely tested. They play three games in the next four days, with the last two of those contests starting a nine-game road trip necessitated by Disney on Ice occupying the United Center. "The NBA is the NBA and people are going to get injured,'' Rose said. "So guys got to step up. We have to step up as a team.'' Rose had 24 points Wednesday, but only two in the fourth quarter. While Chicago may not have Deng, Milwaukee (7-10) will certainly be without Bogut. Bogut is out indefinitely after fracturing his left ankle Wednesday in a 105-99 victory at Houston. The 7-foot center was playing in his 400th career NBA game. He left with three points, four rebounds and three blocked shots. Bogut has averaged 11.3 points, a team-high 8.3 rebounds and a team-high two blocked shots in 12 games this season. The Bucks are 0-5 this season when Bogut doesn't play. "I just can't seem to catch a break," he said. "Coming back from injuries is tough; it's unlucky and frustrating. Someone has a voodoo doll and is putting pins in me." Former Bull Drew Gooden has started each game Bogut has missed. He had a solid game Wednesday, finishing with 11 points and three steals. Reserve forward Ersan Ilyasova will play a bigger role with Bogut sidelined. He turned in an outstanding effort against the Rockets, grabbing a career-high 19 rebounds. Milwaukee has also been getting stellar play out of point guard Brandon Jennings, averaging 26.0 points and 6.8 assists over the last five games. He had 20 points Wednesday, though he's averaged 11.0 versus the Bulls - his second-lowest number against an opponent - while shooting 31.6 percent in six career meetings. Chicago swept its four matchups with Milwaukee last season, holding the Bucks to 80.5 points. Rose averaged 21.5 points and 10.8 assists in those contests.
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