Bulls and Bucks set for battle

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls are back at the United Center for three games, starting with Saturday's showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bulls will also welcome Orlando and Washington to town, and went 3-2 on a recent stay in the Windy City.

Chicago left home for Friday's road bout against the Wizards and suffered a 102-86 loss. Washington's starters posted a 50-18 advantage versus Chicago's and led by a 24-8 score early on. The Bulls scored just 13 points in the first quarter and allowed 60 first-half points.

"We got ourselves in a big hole at 30-13," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "Fought back a couple of times. The bench did a good job and gave us a shot. We fell behind again and came back again but the start was too much to overcome."

Derrick Rose shot 8-for-19 from the floor for a team-high 19 points and Aaron Brooks followed with 16. Pau Gasol delivered a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler struggled from the floor, making only 2-of-12 shots en route to 10 points.

Butler leads the Bulls with 21.7 ppg. Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (ankle) sat out his fourth straight game.

Chicago suffered a 97-77 blowout loss at home to Utah on Wednesday, but is still 13-4 in the last 17 games.

Milwaukee has won five in a row on the road and is coming off Friday's 98-84 victory over the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves. Brandon Knight scored 14 points and both John Henson and O.J. Mayo ended with 12.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 10 points apiece for the Bucks, who shot 52 percent from the floor, made 12-of-19 3-pointers and managed to hold on despite committing 23 turnovers.

"We have to be a little bit more careful with the ball," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said of his team's miscues.

Kenyon Martin made his Milwaukee debut and posted six points in almost eight minutes. The veteran Martin was just signed to a 10-day contract on Friday.

"It was fun to be back out there with the guys and being back in the routine of NBA basketball," Martin said. "I'm just trying to get back into the swing of things."

The Bucks, who haven't scored 100 or more points in six straight games, have won five of their last seven games and are 12-10 away from home. They are the designated home team against New York on Thursday in London and will play three more at the Bradley Center.

Milwaukee was dealt a 95-86 loss by Chicago on Nov. 5 in Brew City, as Taj Gibson posted 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Gasol added 22 points and 14 boards. Antetokounmpo scored 13 points off the bench in that one for the Bucks, who have lost 14 of the last 17 games in this series.

The Bucks are 3-1 in the past four visits to the Second City.