(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By ANDREW WAGNER Associated Press Before the season, few figured the Milwaukee Bucks would be challenging for the Central Division lead.
Yet here they are at 15-12, just a half-game behind division-leading Indiana and tied with Chicago entering Thursday night's games. With Detroit and Cleveland struggling, the Central is currently a three-team race between Chicago, Indiana and Milwaukee.
The Bulls are eagerly awaiting the return of star guard Derrick Rose from a knee injury and the Pacers are in similar situation with injured star Danny Granger, with both not expected back until February at the earliest. That leaves the Bucks, often maddeningly frustrating so far this season, with an outside chance of grabbing their first division title since 2001.
''Based on the records, you have to think (there's a chance),'' says Mike Dunleavy, Jr., one of the team's most consistent players this season. ''Nobody has separated themselves to this point. Until some...