The last thing the Chicago Bulls need is for an injury to halt their momentum.
A day after losing forward Tyrus Thomas for up to six weeks with a broken left forearm, the Bulls try for a third consecutive win Saturday night against the visiting Charlotte Bobcats, also looking for a third straight victory.
Hours after Chicago (3-2) won 86-85 at Cleveland on Thursday night, Thomas suffered the break during a weight training session Friday.
Averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, Thomas started the Bulls' first three games before the flu forced him to miss Tuesday's 83-81 win over Milwaukee and limited him to 12 minutes against the Cavaliers.
Chicago expected big things from Thomas this season after he averaged 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and nearly two blocks a game in 2008-09.
Rookie Taj Gibson had a season-high 11 points Thursday and will make his third straight start in place of Thomas.
Chicago has been able to get by without Thomas' contributions of late. Derrick Rose had 14 points with 11 assists Thursday and John Salmons also added 14 for the Bulls, who despite their continued offensive struggles held Cleveland to 40.7 shooting and LeBron James to 25 points after he scored 41 twice against them last season.
"We didn't do nothing yet," Rose told the Bulls' official Web site. "It's the fifth game of the season. We've just got to be consistent and keep up this energy."
Though Chicago ranks near the bottom of the league with 87.6 points per game, they've held opponents to 92.8 per contest and 87.0 in the last three.
"Our defense is picking up," center Joakim Noah said. "It's not great defense. It's good. When our offense does start coming we'll be better."
The Bulls should be encouraged with Rose having recorded his two highest point totals in his last two games and Luol Deng averaging 21.7 in the last three. Deng has averaged 19.7 points while shooting 54.1 percent in his last nine games versus Charlotte.
With 84.4 points per game, the Bobcats are the only team in the league with a lower scoring average than the Bulls. However, that doesn't mean the Bulls will need to be any less aggressive on the defensive end Saturday. The Bobcats averaged a league-low 93.6 points last season, but 104.0 on 47.6 percent shooting while going 2-1 against Chicago.
Charlotte (3-2) scored a season high in a 103-83 win home win over Atlanta on Friday.
Raja Bell scored 24 points and Flip Murray added 15 off the bench in his Charlotte debut against his former team to help the Bobcats shoot a season-high 47.0 percent. Gerald Wallace had 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting but pulled down 18 rebounds.
"We had so many guys contribute," said coach Larry Brown, whose team has been able to overcome its offensive struggles by allowing 86.6 per contest.
Having Bell -- in his second game back from a wrist injury -- and Murray (shin) on the court may ignite a club that scored more than 79 points once in its first four games.
"Right now it aches a little bit, but when you get a good adrenaline flow going it really only hurts when it's a situational thing," said Bell, who decided to put off surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist.
Though the Bobcats are playing well, they're averaging 69.0 points and shooting 36.6 percent while starting 0-2 on the road. Chicago, meanwhile, is 3-0 at home and 7-2 all-time against the Bobcats at the United Center.