Eight things to keep an eye on during tonight's marquee matchups
POSTED: Jan 12, 2016 11:06 AM ET
Jimmy Butler looks to score 30-plus points against the Bucks for the second time this week.
Chicago and Milwaukee matchup for the second time this week after the Bulls controlled the Bucks for a 117-106 win last Tuesday. Jimmy Butler led the charge for Chicago to give the Bulls their seventh win over the last eight regular season matchups with the Bucks. Their lone loss came last April in Milwaukee when Michael Carter-Williams tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds in the 95-91 victory. The Bucks will need another performance like that from Carter-Williams tonight if they hope to push the Bulls to a 6-9 record away from the United Center. The last time the Bulls were in Milwaukee, they beat the Bucks by 54 points to close out their first-round playoff series. Will the outcome be different tonight as the Bucks play on their new, alternate court?
Bucks vs. Bulls
Jimmy Butler scores 32 points adds a season-high 10 assists to lead the Bulls to a 117-106 victory over the Bucks.
Jimmy Butler returns to Milwaukee where he played college ball at Marquette University. The all-around shooting guard has tallied 30-plus points in five games this season with three of those games coming on the road. A fourth was dropped on the Bucks last week when he went 11-for-21 from the field for 32 points to go along with a career-high 10 assists. Expect another big night from Butler as he plays on his old college court and looks to help the Bulls avoid a third consecutive loss.
After a slow stretch to start the season, Khris Middleton has turned it on for the Bucks over his last 11 games with averages of 23.3 points on 52.9 percent from the field, 49.1 percent from 3-point range, 4.9 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 36.6 minutes. He scored 26 points on 5-for-10 from 3-point in the Bucks' loss to Chicago last Tuesday. Expect the Bulls to be focused tonight on slowing Middleton, who is the only 3-point threat in the Bucks' starting lineup.
Pau Gasol has dominated the Bucks since joining the Bulls last season. In five games against Milwaukee as a Bull, Gasol is averaging 24.6 points on 57.7 percent shooting and 12.8 rebounds. This includes a career-best night last January when he tallied a career-high 46 points on 17-for-30 shooting, 18 rebounds and three assists in the Bulls' win. Gasol was held to just 14 points in the Bucks' lone regular season win against Chicago since last season. The Bulls will look for a big night from Gasol as they look to bounce back from last night's 114-100 defeat in Washington.
Anthony Davis (lower back) and Kobe Bryant (strained right Achilles) both missed their games on Sunday and are questionable for tonight's matchup in L.A. Both injuries were suffered on Friday as Davis injured his back after falling into the stands and Bryant strained his Achilles in the fourth quarter against the Thunder. Bryant suffered a ruptured left Achilles to end the 2012-13 season, so the Lakers and Bryant will definitely be careful nursing this ailment. Bryant has played well as of late, averaging 21.1 points on 41.7 percent shooting in his last 11 games. Who will step up for these two struggling Western Conference teams if their stars are out?
Lou Williams is the top candidate to pick up the slack for the Lakers as he's averaging 24.4 points over his last five games. He posted two 30-plus point games during this stretch including a career-high 44 points (15-for-15 from the free throw line) against the Thunder on Sunday. Expect a lot of action from the streaky, high-volume scorer if Bryant misses the game.
Tyreke Evans has looked good for the Pelicans over his past five games with averages of 19.8 points on 47.4 percent shooting, 6.8 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 35.5 minutes. The former Kia Rookie of the Year winner missed the first 17 games of the season due to injury, but he seems to be finding his zone now after posting 26-plus points in his past two games. The Pelicans will need another strong performance from their primary ballhandler tonight if Davis is out.
The Pelicans have won their last five matchups against the Lakers with L.A.'s last win coming on November 12, 2013. New Orleans is averaging 110.8 points during this stretch while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from 3-point. However, this stretch could come to an end tonight if Davis is out as the Pelicans are 0-4 without Davis in the lineup this season. If Davis does miss the game, we know at least one of these two streaks will end tonight.
NBA.com staff reports