Bucks look for rebound in Chicago
The Milwaukee Bucks hope to have standout Giannis Antetokounmpo available when they make the short trek down to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Monday night.
The Bucks were without Antetokounmpo and newcomer Nikola Mirotic when they got thumped 103-83 at home by Orlando on Saturday night.
It was their lowest scoring output of the season and also their most lopsided loss. Their previous four home defeats had been by a total of 22 points.
"We'll probably put this one in the trash can and move on," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer promised reporters afterward.
Veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe offered a few excuses for the poor performance, none of which involved the two key absences.
"It was one of them games on a back-to-back (where) we got in super late, had a late game," he offered up to reporters. The Bucks had won 122-107 the previous night at Dallas.
"Everybody was tired, man," he continued. "We didn't have no legs. We missed a lot of (3-point shots), threes we normally make.
"Like Bud said: Throw this away."
The Bucks fell to 2-2 this season without Antetokounmpo. They lost their only previous road game without him at Washington.
As was the case Saturday, the All-Star captain's absences this season have been designed to ease the burden on a troublesome right knee. On each of the previous three occasions, he returned to play the next game.
Antetokounmpo also sat out a 118-105 win at Chicago last March. In that game, five reserves -- four of whom are no longer with the team -- combined for 70 points.
Mirotic was imported at the trade deadline to add to the Bucks' depth. He has missed nine straight games with a strained right calf, although he told reporters before Saturday's contest that he's close to making his Milwaukee debut. That won't happen Monday, the team announced hours before the game.
The Bucks have swept a pair of home games from the Bulls this season, but those meetings were in November. Chicago will give Milwaukee a bit of a different look this time around, with Otto Porter Jr. having been acquired at the trade deadline for ex-Buck Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis.
Porter has averaged 17.5 points in his first two games for Chicago, hitting six of his 10 3-point shots.
The acquisition was made in part to aid the Chicago perimeter game. The Bulls rank in the bottom four in the league in both 3-point attempts per game (26.7) and 3-point field goals (9.4).
Chicago has made a total of 20 3-pointers in its two games with Porter in the lineup, including going 14-for-28 in a 125-106 win at Brooklyn on Friday.
Like the Bucks, the Bulls were playing on the second night of a back-to-back when they lost 134-125 at home to Washington on Saturday.
The consecutive games with 125 points was a first for the Bulls since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen combined for 119 points on back-to-back nights in February of 1991.
"We looked like a team out there, and played like a team," Bulls coach Jim Boylen gushed after Friday's win at Brooklyn. "(Porter) picks up things quickly, and to me that's what a pro is."
Saturday's loss was Chicago's 10th straight at home. The Bulls haven't won a home game since Dec. 21 against Orlando.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 11, 2019