The Chicago Bulls were originally slated for another reunion with former coach Scott Skiles but he’s once again looking for work.
Instead, the Bulls will face former assistant Jim Boylan when they seek a season-high fourth straight win Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, who will try to build on the end to a four-game skid.
In a development that seemed all too familiar, the Bucks (17-16) agreed to part ways with Skiles on Tuesday and replaced him with Boylan. Chicago did the same thing on Christmas Eve in 2007 after a 9-16 start, and Boylan went 24-32, winning his debut against Milwaukee, before being replaced by current Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro.
“That’s my job right now, to get us back on the right track, move us in the right direction and I think the guys we have on the team right now are quality people and committed to that task. That’ll be our ultimate goal,” Boylan said.
Boylan’s second stint as a head coach got off to a positive start as Milwaukee snapped a season-high losing streak with a 108-99 win over visiting Phoenix on Tuesday. Brandon Jennings led the way with 29 points and nine assists, and six other players also scored in double figures.
“It was weird looking on the end of the bench and (Skiles) wasn’t there. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon. Jim’s been here for four years. It’ll be good sooner or later,” said Jennings, who had a combined 28 points in his two previous games.
Jennings was held to six points on 2-of-9 shooting in the most recent matchup with Chicago on Nov. 26 but the Bucks pulled out a 93-92 road victory after rallying from a 27-point deficit in the third quarter. Ekpe Udoh made the go-ahead layup with 58 seconds left then blocked two shots to help Milwaukee snap a nine-game losing streak to its Central Division rivals.
Ersan Ilyasova had 14 of his team-best 18 points in the second half during the Bucks’ end to a four-game skid in Chicago.
Richard Hamilton had a season-high 30 points in that loss and scored 22 in the opener of that home-and-home set, a 93-86 victory Nov. 24. Carlos Boozer also had 22 points in that win and a season-high 19 rebounds.
Boozer has averaged 27.3 points on 60.0 percent shooting and 11.3 rebounds in the Bulls’ 3-0 start to 2013. He had 24 points and 11 boards in a 118-92 rout of visiting Cleveland on Monday.
“I’m just playing off my teammates,” he said. “We work hard together. We’re hanging out together. It’s like a college team.”
Chicago (19-13) finished 2012 by losing three of four, including a 91-81 home defeat on Dec. 31 to a Charlotte team that had lost 18 in a row.
“We had a tough last couple weeks of 2012,” Boozer said. “The new year, we’ve got a couple of resolutions. The biggest one is getting more wins.”
The Bulls have won 19 of 23 at home against Milwaukee and Boozer has averaged 19.4 points on 55.6 percent shooting in the past five of those games. He’ll try to continue that production while leading Chicago to its first four-game win streak since March 17-24.
Jennings had 23 points in the home loss to the Bulls on Nov. 24 and leading scorer Monta Ellis has averaged 13.5 on 40.7 percent shooting in the two matchups this season.
Ellis averaged 25.1 points on 48.9 percent shooting in his first nine meetings with Chicago.