Bucks Notes: Lopez, Antetokounmpo, Connaughton, Evans

Bucks center Brook Lopez is feeling even better now than he did before the back issue that kept him off the floor for nearly five months, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Lopez, who underwent surgery in early December, admitted that he may have gained some weight during his time off, but said he feels comfortable moving around the court. He adds that doctors were never able to determine the original source of the injury.

“I don’t know how it happened, where it came from, and so they said this could have been something — the way the disc is — it could have been something more internally that they couldn’t really see,” he said. “Then it kind of worked its way out and then tore. When it finally happened then they could see it on the scans or whatever. It could have been something that was like, a year or two even old, who knows, and it finally took effect. Which is why it was tough in the time to make the decision to do the surgery but it was what was best for me.”

The Bucks have missed Lopez in several areas, but the most glaring has been on defense, as they rank 14th in the league in defensive rating after being ninth last season and first the two prior years. Much of that is attributable to the absence of Lopez, who covers a lot of ground with his 7’6″ wingspan.

“I think when you have Brook out there it just makes the game easier for everybody, especially for me,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “He’s like, he’s so, he’s so big. He can literally contest the shot and still get back and rebound the ball. He can help us rebound. He’s just such a threat offensively. He can knock down shots. He can go for the offensive rebound. You can feed him in the post. He makes our job; he makes me, Bobby (Portis‘) job easier.”

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Antetokounmpo is sitting out today’s game with Minnesota because of soreness in his right knee, Owczarski adds in a separate story“We are kind of always kind of managing his knees and his health,” coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo, who is missing his 12th game of the season. “I think he did get banged maybe in (Wednesday’s) game and the one before, both, so I think it’s just part of the NBA season and schedule. We hope it’s short term. We’ll see how he responds the next day or two.”
  • Pat Connaughton is expected to return on Saturday, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. It will be the first time he has played since breaking a bone in his right hand February 10.
  • Tyreke Evans posted 16 points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal in his debut with the G League Wisconsin Herd on Friday night (Twitter link from the team). Evans worked out for the Bucks recently in hopes of making an NBA comeback.
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