With their star guard done for the season, the Chicago Bulls hope their current leading scorer is healthy enough to get back on the floor.
Luol Deng could return from a one-game absence when the Bulls try to get back on track and avoid a third consecutive home loss to the lowly Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Averaging 19.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists, Deng is day to day with an Achilles' injury that kept him out of Chicago's 92-75 defeat to visiting Detroit on Saturday.
With another season-ending knee injury to Derrick Rose and guard Jimmy Butler still out due to a toe injury that has sidelined him the past nine games, the Bulls (8-10) can't afford to be without another key contributor.
"My mindset is to be ready for (Tuesday's) game," said Deng, who has averaged 26.2 points in his last six contests.
After going 10 of 19 from 3-point range in a 107-87 win over Miami on Thursday, the Bulls went 3 of 18 from beyond the arc while losing to the Pistons for the first time in 15 home games.
Starting for Deng, Taj Gibson had team highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago, which was outscored 24-9 in the third quarter in posting its lowest point total of the season and losing for the seventh time in nine contests.
"It's the challenge of the league," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You have a good win, and then the thing that you're concerned with is how quickly everything can change."
Thibodeau has been able to rely on Gibson, who has averaged 21.4 points and 8.4 boards in the last five games.
After scoring 16 points in 33 minutes Saturday, Chicago's Mike Dunleavy could continue to see more time, especially if Deng is out. The veteran forward scored a season-high 23 in 48 minutes of a 131-128 triple-overtime loss to New Orleans last Monday.
The Bucks (4-16) had dropped 12 of 13 at Chicago before winning both meetings at the United Center last season by a combined nine points. Milwaukee, however, has the worst record in the Eastern Conference and followed Friday's 109-105 overtime win at Washington with a 90-82 home loss to injury-riddled Brooklyn the next night.
O.J. Mayo had 22 points for the Bucks, who played without injured center Zaza Pachulia for a second straight game and were unable to keep Nets center Brook Lopez from scoring a season-high 32 points.
"As sharp as we were in Washington, we were two steps behind, for whatever reason," coach Larry Drew said. "This is the NBA. You go through stretches of the highs and the lows. We've got to get used to that. We've got to man up. We came out (Saturday) and didn't play with the juice we had Friday."
Mayo has averaged 16.1 points in the last seven games after totaling 27 in the previous four.
While playing for Memphis and Dallas the past five seasons, Mayo averaged 17.8 points and went 9 of 16 from 3-point range in his first five games against the Bulls. However, he was 2 of 12 from beyond the arc and averaged 5.4 points in his last five matchups with them.
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