Bucks and Bulls clash in the Second City

Reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose recently made his return to game absence due to lower back spasms.

Rose and the Bulls will try to give the Central Division-rival Milwaukee Bucks a few spasms Wednesday, when the two teams collide tonight at the United Center. Rose had missed the previous five games (3-2) and delivered 23 points, six assists and five rebounds during Monday's 90-70 win over Atlanta.

"He brings a lot of confidence with him, he puts so much pressure on opposing teams and players that it opens up things for everybody," Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer said of Rose.

Carlos Boozer and Brewer scored 16 and 13 points, respectively, for the Bulls, who are 7-3 without Rose this season and have won eight of their last 10 games. Joakim Noah had five points and a game-high 16 rebounds, as Chicago improved to 3-1 on a six-game homestand and 12-2 in the Windy City. Mike James and John Lucas III combined for 17 points in 26 minutes of play.

The Bulls will close out the homestand after the All-Star break versus New Orleans on Feb. 28. Guard C.J. Watson left in the third quarter of Saturday's loss to New Jersey after taking a blow to the head and did not play versus the Hawks. Watson filled in nicely for Rose and is questionable for tonight.

Milwaukee will play four of its next five games on the road and is 6-11 away from the Bradley Center this season.

The Bucks have lost eight of their last 11 games overall, including Monday's 93-90 loss versus the Orlando Magic in Brew City. Ryan Anderson buried a three-pointer with 18.1 seconds left to give Orlando the lead for good, while Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 22 points and committed a big turnover late in the game. Ersan Ilyasova notched 15 points with 15 rebounds in defeat.

Larry Sanders finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and missed an easy layup in the paint in the closing moments of the game.

"We were probably one rebound away from winning the game," said Bucks head coach Scott Skiles, whose team has dropped six in a row at home. "We just couldn't get the rebound and Anderson drilled the shot."

Bucks forward Drew Gooden missed his third straight game with a wrist/knee ailment and is doubtful for tonight. He is averaging 12/7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season.

Milwaukee has lost the first two meetings with Chicago this season and will host the Bulls again on March 7. The Bulls have won six straight and nine of the past 12 meetings with the Bucks, who have lost three straight and 11 of their last 12 trips to the Second City.