Washington (7-27) at Chicago (15-20)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Fri Jan 9, 2009
  • TV: CSCH
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The Chicago Bulls have been off the mark with their shooting this past week. They could certainly use a performance along the lines of Luol Deng’s last effort against the Washington Wizards.

After getting Drew Gooden back in their last game, the Bulls are hoping Deng returns when they face the lowly Wizards on Friday night.

Chicago (15-20) has shot under 40 percent in each of its last three games, but managed to break a three-game skid by beating Sacramento 99-94 on Tuesday night. The Bulls shot 38.6 percent, but Gooden gave them a boost with 18 points and 10 rebounds after being sidelined for eight games with a sprained right ankle.

After getting one of its top big men back, Chicago may get some more frontcourt help with Deng possibly returning after missing six games with a sprained left ankle. Deng is averaging 13.3 points, nearly four less than last season.

On Dec. 6 against Washington (7-27), though, Deng had his highest-scoring game of the season, finishing with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting as Chicago won 117-110. The Bulls set a season high for points - which they’ve since tied - and shot 52.4 percent from the field and 55.0 percent from 3-point range.

Those numbers are a far cry from the production the Bulls have gotten in recent games. Chicago is averaging 94.3 points and shooting 39.1 percent from the floor in its last four contests.

“I wish I had a great answer other than we are out of sync because of injuries and schedule,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. “You have to get good rhythm shots, especially for the young players. When you get older, when you’re not making your shot you find ways to help the team. You have to make shots. You are not going to win games shooting 39 percent.”

Washington has been bad offensively all season, averaging 93.7 points and 43.8 percent shooting. The Wizards were held under 90 points in five straight games before a 99-93 loss to Toronto on Tuesday night.

Washington has had trouble jelling, with constantly shifting lineups as it tries to mix in younger players while dealing with injuries.

“We’re developing a lot of players this season. It’s no secret,” Wizards swingman Caron Butler said. “You see a lot of young guys playing that probably wouldn’t see the court at all if everyone was healthy.”

The Wizards have not had Gilbert Arenas (left knee) or Brendan Haywood (right wrist) all season, and are without starting shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, who’s missed a week and is expected to be out at least another 1 1/2 weeks with a bad back.

Butler and Antawn Jamison are left to carry the team. Jamison is averaging a team-high 20.9 points and 9.4 rebounds while Butler has averaged 20.6 points and 4.5 assists.

Jamison scored a season-high 32 points versus the Raptors. He had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the season’s first matchup with Chicago.

Butler had a team-high 27 points in that contest.

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Friday, Jan 9