Bulls, Bucks clash in Central Division showdown

11:20 AM, Jan 10, 2014   |    comments
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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls will try to extend their current winning streak to four games when they visit the slumping Milwaukee Bucks Friday night at the Bradley Center.

The Bulls made it three straight wins with Tuesday's 92-87 victory over the Phoenix Suns, as Taj Gibson posted a team-high 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Joakim Noah ended with 14 points and 16 boards, while Jimmy Butler and D.J. Augustin scored 13 points apiece.

Noah, who is probable Friday with an illness, is posting an average of 12.0 points and 13.8 rebounds over the last four games. Tony Snell chipped in 12 points in the win for Chicago, which has won six of its last eight games.

The Bulls, who were without the services of starting power forward Carlos Boozer (sore right knee), dealt two-time All-Star Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers early Tuesday morning.

The Bulls received Andrew Bynum, who was promptly waived, along with a first round pick and a pair of second rounders for the third-longest tenured player in franchise history.

As for Boozer, he could return Friday night.

"Carlos is good," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said following the team's practice on Thursday. "He did everything in practice and he's feeling a lot better. We'll see how he feels (Friday) morning, but the way he practiced, he was fine. As long as there are no problems, he's a go."

Chicago has won two in a row on the road and is 5-11 as the visitor. It has allowed just 83.5 ppg in 15 wins this season.

Milwaukee has lost three in a row and 11 of its last 13 games, and suffered a 101-80 setback to red-hot Golden State on Tuesday.

Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Knight scored 20 and 18 points, respectively, and O.J. Mayo added 13 for Milwaukee, which shot 38.8 percent and managed to post 26 points off 17 Golden State turnovers. However, it wasn't enough to stop the Warriors' winning streak.

"We knew we would have to play a really solid game for four quarters against this team," said Bucks coach Larry Drew. "Give credit where credit is due. They got a lot of weapons."

Bucks forward John Henson hasn't played since Dec. 27 because of a high ankle sprain and is questionable Friday. He is averaging 12.4 ppg.

Ilyasova is listed as questionable with a sore right hand.

Milwaukee, which sports a league-worst 7-27 record, has lost two in a row at home and owns a 3-13 record at the Bradley Center. The Bucks are the only team with single-digit victories.

The Bucks and Bulls have split a pair of games this season with each team holding strong as the visitor. Chicago, though, has won 11 of the past 14 meetings between the Central Division rivals and is unbeaten in seven straight as the guest.

The Sports Network

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