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News » BUCKS VS. KNICKS Back to form Bogut starting to play like old self

BUCKS VS. KNICKS Back to form Bogut starting to play like old self

BUCKS VS. KNICKS  Back to form  Bogut starting to play like old self By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles knew how much his team missed Andrew Bogut's presence after the 7-foot center was shut down in early February last season.

Now everybody else is finding out, too.

Bogut put on an impressive performance in the Bucks' first road victory of the season, notching 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as Milwaukee beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 87-72, on Friday night in Minneapolis.

"Finally," he said of having a strong performance while helping the Bucks win.

Skiles said Bogut's importance to the Bucks was quite obvious after the Australian big man regained some of his previous form in Chicago on Tuesday and against the Timberwolves. He also had a double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) against the Bulls.

Bogut was brought along slowly in the preseason to make sure the stress fracture in his lower back was completely healed and that he could withstand the pounding that comes at his position.

He had to sit idle from February until July, when he was cleared for some conditioning work and non-Basketball drills. Bogut didn't have any Basketball contact until just before training camp opened in late September.

"I feel like he's really being aggressive now," Skiles said. "He looks much more like himself. He's moving around well; he's facing up people. He's got a quick first step and is making some nice reads and some nice passes.

"We're going to him and he's being productive right now."

Bogut's powerful first-half dunk made ESPN's highlights Friday, and he played strong defense against Timberwolves center Al Jefferson.

"It's been a long time coming," Bogut said. "I haven't had a game like that since January maybe. It's just good to be out there and playing.

"The goal is to try to stay injury-free this year."

Bogut fell hard to the floor while being fouled by Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn with 7:12 left in the third quarter. He winced and got up slowly but refused treatment at a timeout about a minute later.

After the game he said, "I'm good. It was a tough hit, but it's part of Basketball. You fall down on the ground a couple times."

Skiles has said he has no restrictions on Bogut's playing time, but the Bucks coach still is trying to be smart about the fifth-year pro's minutes and give him adequate rest.

"This is the boat we're in a little bit," Skiles said. "He's no longer injured but because of the rehab and everything, he's having some sore days every now and then, not related to the injury.

"On a night when we have a back-to-back (against New York on Saturday), I feel fortunate Bogues only played 27 minutes, because he was getting knocked around pretty good out there."

Bogut took 14 shots for the second straight game, a solid number, and was 1 for 4 at the foul line.

"He's such a factor on both ends," Skiles said. "He anchors our defense. He's rarely ever in the wrong spot.

"He's always in the correct help position. He uses his length; he's a good defensive rebounder. When he wasn't in our games last year, it's no secret, we kind of fell apart."

But Skiles said he also likes the contributions the team is getting from backup center Dan Gadzuric, who was 3 for 4 from the field against Minnesota with six points and four rebounds.

"Danny is playing very well for us right now," Skiles said. "He's given us a big lift in every game.

"He's coming in with a lot of energy. We're losing Bogues' scoring a little bit when Danny comes in, but we're not losing anything on the defense or rebounding."

The Bucks' game Saturday night vs. the Knicks ended too late to be included in this edition. For coverage, please visit

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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