Cleveland (8-24) at Chicago (21-10)

By JEFF MEZYDLO, STATS Senior Writer Friday, Dec 31, 2010 Tipoff: 7:00 pm EST Sat Jan 1, 2011

Little went right for the Cleveland Cavaliers over the last eight months of 2010. The beginning of 2011 might not be much better.

With injuries continuing to mount, the lowly Cavaliers look to avoid a sixth consecutive loss while trying to prevent the Chicago Bulls from a fourth straight victory Saturday night at the United Center.

With LeBron James(notes) leading the way, Cleveland won 61 games and secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs last season. Since then, things have gone downhill.

After posting a five-game, first-round series win over Chicago, Cleveland was eliminated by Boston in six the next round. Coach Mike Brown was fired in late May and James announced on live television in July that he was leaving his home state to sign with Miami.

While James and the Heat have thrived this season, the Cavaliers (8-24) have lost 15 of 16, own the worst record in the Eastern Conference and have been riddled with injuries of late.

Starting guards Mo Williams(notes) (hip) and Daniel Gibson(notes) (thigh) are questionable for Saturday, and center Anderson Varejao(notes) will miss the next two games after he fractured his cheekbone in Wednesday’s 101-92 loss at Charlotte.

“Happy new year to me,” coach Byron Scott told the Cavaliers’ official website. “That’s why we are glad 2010 is over with. Though 2011 is not starting out good, we hope it will get better.”

With the potential of being minus three starters, the Cavaliers face an even tougher challenge against the Central Division-leading Bulls (21-10).

Chicago won for the 12th time in 14 games Friday, 90-81 over New Jersey.

Even with Williams, Gibson and Varejao, the Cavaliers shot 38.3 percent during an 88-83 home loss to Chicago on Dec. 8.

Antawn Jamison(notes) had a team-high 21 points in that contest and likely will be asked to carry the offensive load if the Cavaliers are again short-handed Saturday. He’s averaged 23.5 points in his last six games versus Chicago.

Jamison scored 18 at Charlotte as the Cavaliers failed to overcome a 19-point second-half deficit.

“Our margin for error is very slim, and when we get down 15 or 16 points, it’s an uphill battle,” Scott said.

Scott hopes his club doesn’t face a similar situation against a Chicago squad that’s allowed 85.7 points while winning 11 of 13.

Ex-Cavalier Carlos Boozer(notes) had 20 points with 15 rebounds, while Derrick Rose(notes) added 19 points and nine assists Friday as the Bulls overcame a 39.5 percent shooting effort.

“It shows how good we are,” Rose said. “In the past, it usually took us like to shoot 70 percent, 60 percent, and that usually comes out to a win.”

After missing the first month with a broken hand, Boozer has averaged 26.2 points and 12.8 boards in his last five contests. However, he was held to a season-low four points and three rebounds in 20 minutes at Cleveland.

Rose scored 29 points in that contest and has averaged 26.7 in his last seven games - including the postseason - against the Cavaliers.

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