The Charlotte Hornets will look to get interim coach Stephen Silas his first win and exact a measure of revenge at the same time when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
The Hornets were the last team to lose to the Bulls, beaten 123-120 in Chicago on Nov. 17 despite a 47-point explosion by Kemba Walker.
Chicago has lost 10 in a row since and 15 of its last 16.
The Hornets are coming off a 101-87 home loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night in their first game since coach Steve Clifford took a leave of absence due to a health issue.
No further explanation was offered by the Hornets as to why Clifford would not be coaching in the Golden State game and for an unspecified time moving forward.
Clearly, the news affected some Hornets players.
"I feel like Cliff is one of those guys, no matter what is going on his life, he's always going to be here," forward Marvin Williams said. "So for him to not be here now is a little bit concerning.
"I have texted back and forth with him a couple of times, and he's texted back every time. He seems in good spirits. Whatever is going on with him, I'm sure he's fine. If he has to step away to make sure he's OK, that's what is most important."
Silas inherited a team that had lost four of its past five games before going up against the defending champs. In all, the Hornets have lost 11 of 15, including the narrow defeat at Chicago.
The defeat against Golden State was a painful one for the Hornets, who lost backup big men Cody Zeller (torn meniscus in left knee) and Frank Kaminsky (sprained right ankle) in the contest. Both will miss the Chicago game.
The Bulls might not have won again since their last encounter with the Hornets, but their recent form has been encouraging. Their 98-96 loss at Indiana on Wednesday was their third by one or two points in their past four defeats.
The Bulls have played the entire season not only in transition from the trading away of star Jimmy Butler in the offseason, but also without two key injured players, Zach LaVine and Nikola Mirotic.
Mirotic, who sustained facial fractures in a fight with teammate Bobby Portis at practice on the eve of the October opener, is scheduled to make his season debut against the Hornets.
"I'm not angry at anyone," he said at practice this week. "I'm doing fine with myself. My family is great. There's nothing to be angry about now. It's all over. It's a new beginning."
Portis, who was suspended by the team for the first eight games of the season, has rebounded to become Chicago's fifth-leading scorer this season at 12.0 points per game.
He had 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the earlier win over the Hornets. The Bulls went 17-for-34 from beyond the arc in that game.
Mirotic has averaged in double figures all three years of his NBA career. He had a 24-point, 11-rebound double-double when the Bulls won at Charlotte last March.
LaVine, meanwhile, is expected to join the lineup in January. He was the key acquisition in the Butler trade in June, a deal in which the Bulls also landed Kris Dunn and impressive rookie Lauri Markkanen from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
LaVine was averaging 18.9 points for the Timberwolves at the time of his knee injury in February. He underwent surgery shortly thereafter.