GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER:
Milwaukee (29-5, 13-3 on the road) at Bulls (13-20, 7-10 at home)
TV: NBCSC: Neil Funk and Stacey King. 7PM
RADIO: 670 The Score: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, and David Schuster. 6:45 pre.
SEASON SERIES: Milwaukee 2-0
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine 23 ppg. Bucks: Antetokounmpo: 30ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls; Carter: 9 per. Bucks: Antetokounmpo: 12 per.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Satoransky: 5 per. Bucks: Antetokounmpo: 5 per.
PREVIEW: The last game of the decade for the Bulls! Don't look now but the Bulls are turning the corner as they close out the decade attempting to go 8-6 in December should they come away with a win tonight against the Bucks. The schedule becomes more difficult for the Bulls as eight of their next 12 games are against teams with records over .500. I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead as the Bulls play a whopping 17 games in January.
Lauri Markkanen goes into the Bucks game riding a consecutive double-figure scoring streak of 14 games. In 13 December games, Markkanen is averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds shooting 50% from the field, 40% from 3pt. range and 86% from the line. Pretty impressive stats if you ask CCI. Markkanen is questionable for tonight's game with a lingering illness.
Zach LaVine in December is averaging 25 points per contest shooting 39% from three-point land. Kris Dunn is constantly in the top three in steals and deflections. Wendell Carter Jr. is doing a tremendous job on box outs and screens.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may or may not return to the court tonight after missing the last two games with back soreness. He is listed as questionable. CCI will update on Twitter later today (@ctsbulls). Antetokounmpo is having another MVP caliber season averaging 30 points (2nd to James Harden) 12 rebounds (6th) and dishing out 5 assists per game. As we all know, Giannis is a fabulous talent. A generational talent. No one saw this coming including the Bucks. But Giannis deserves the credit along with the Bucks organization who worked to develop his evolving skillset that was percolating in Euro ball.
Eric Bledsoe is expected to return to the Bucks lineup after missing the last eight games with a fractured right fibula.
Khris Middleton continues to be, well, Khris Middleton. You can basically write it down every game. He's going to give you 16-22 a night. No fanfare; just does his job and he does it very well.
Another veteran Bucks' player who is having a renaissance season is Ersan Ilyasova who lately is putting up monster numbers. It seems like he's been in the NBA since 1967. How old is he? 32? Really? That's it? He's had a steady career. He knows his role and handles it extremely well. He does whatever is asked of him.
24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
"CCI Game of the Night" Los Angeles Lakers 108, Dallas 95: LeBron James turns 35 today—last night he became the ninth player in NBA history with 9-thousand assists. He had 13 against the Mavs. The Lakers improved to 26-7.
OKC 98, Toronto 97: Big time road win for the upstart Thunder, winners of six of their last seven games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on a roll. He lit up the Raps for 32 points. In his last six games, he's averaging 27 points and 45% from three-point range. Toronto has lost three of its last four games.
Denver 120, Sacramento 115: Michael Porter Jr. made his first career start and he came through big time: 19 points and six rebounds. The Nuggets have won nine of their last ten games.
Memphis 117, Charlotte 104: The Hornets have lost five straight.
New Orleans 127, Houston 112: Lonzo Ball with a huge night: 27-10-8. He drained a career-high seven three-pointers. It marked the time in franchise history the Pelicans had four 25-point scorers in the same game & the first time in the NBA since 2006 according to ESPN. The Pels have won four straight. The Rockets played without James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Clint Capela.
Always a pleasure.