Dallas at Chicago

Venue: United Center

With their defense back on track and overall health improving, the Chicago Bulls are on the verge of their longest winning streak in more than a month.

The Dallas Mavericks are looking to tighten things up following their worst defensive stretch of the season.

The Bulls hope to have leading scorer Luol Deng back as they seek their third straight win Saturday night while the visiting Mavericks try to avoid their fourth loss in five games.

Chicago (11-16) couldn't contain two of the top-scoring teams in the league, surrendering a total of 216 points on 52.4 percent shooting - including 17 of 37 from 3-point range - in double-digit losses at Houston and Oklahoma City last week.

The Bulls, however, bounced back by limiting Cleveland and Brooklyn to a combined 162 points, 37.9 percent shooting and 9 of 35 from beyond the arc in their last two victories. They held the Nets to season lows in points and shooting percentage (35.2) in a 95-78 road win on Christmas Day.

Chicago welcomed back starters Kirk Hinrich (back) and Jimmy Butler (ankle) in Wednesday's win.

Deng, though, is likely to be a game-time decision after missing three straight and seven of the past 10 because of an Achilles injury. The two-time All-Star, averaging a team-high 19.6 points, has scored 23.0 per game with nine 3-pointers in his last three against the Mavericks (16-13).

"It's coming around," coach Tom Thibodeau told the team's official website. "It's good to get guys back."

Though they haven't won three in a row since a five-game run from Nov. 8-18, the injury-ravaged Bulls remain one of the league's top defensive clubs with 92.7 points allowed per game on 42.8 percent shooting.

The Mavericks have had trouble scoring in recent visits to the United Center, averaging 79.3 points while shooting 36.5 percent during their three-game skid in Chicago. But they're playing well offensively heading into this meeting, averaging 107.5 points on 49.5 percent shooting over their last six.

Dirk Nowitzki leads Dallas with 21.6 points per game after finishing with a game-high 25 in a 116-107 loss to visiting San Antonio on Thursday. He had 35 points on 14-of-17 shooting - including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left - in a 100-98 home win over the Bulls on March 30.

The Mavericks could be getting Brandan Wright back after he missed Thursday's game because of an undisclosed illness. Wright, who missed the first 23 games while recovering from a fractured shoulder, has averaged 12.2 points on 25-of-34 shooting with nine blocked shots in the five games he's played.

Dallas could use any help it can get on the defensive end after allowing 113.0 points and 46.5 percent shooting from 3-point range while dropping three of four.

"It's just giving up too many points," Nowitzki told the team's official website. "It's tough and puts a lot of pressure on our offense."

The Bulls have averaged 96.0 points and shot 46.8 percent over their previous four games following a six-game stretch in which they averaged 79.5 points while shooting a dreadful 36.1 percent.

Taj Gibson has provided a spark with 16.3 points per game in his past four, while D.J. Augustin has averaged 15.3 points while making 9 for 17 from beyond the arc in his last three.

The Bulls are seeking their fifth win in six meetings.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Dallas2nd Southwest 4240.512257-3Lost 1
Chicago4th Central 4240.512156-4Won 3

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D HarrisToe
I CanaanShoulder
Key Players
Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki, PF
32.9 Min. Per Game 38.4 Luol Deng
Luol Deng, SF
21.6 Pts. Per Game 19.6
2.9 Ast. Per Game 4.0
6.0 Reb. Per Game 7.0
49.9 Field Goal % 45.8
39.8 Three Point % 28.1
92.3 Free Throw % 80.2
Series Game Log
Dec 15 @ Milwaukee 
Dec 16Chicago 
Dec 31Chicago 
Mar 26 @ Milwaukee 
Other Games
Cle 100 Final
Bos 103
Brook 91 Final
Ind 105
Det 82 Final
Wash 106
NY 100 Final
Tor 115
Char 116 Final
Atl 118
NO 98 Final
Hou 107
Den 99 Final
Mem 120
Min 117 Final
Mil 95
Phi 101 Final
Pho 115
Miami 108 Final
Port 107
Utah 90 Final
LAC 98