With their disappointing Rocky Mountain road trip in the rearview mirror, the Bucks return home once again without Larry Sanders but with Luc Mbah a Moute back in the lineup. The news is worse for Detroit, which will be without rookie phenom Andre Drummond for a month.
Injuries. The Bucks were without their two best defenders in Utah on Wednesday, as Luc Mbah a Moute (sore knee) and Larry Sanders (lower back) both missed out due to injuries suffered a night earlier in Denver. But Andrew Gruman reports both are doing better and could play tonight after taking part in portions of practice on Friday:
"It went good," Sanders said. "I moved around a little bit and got some of the stiffness out. It's still sore and sensitive to the touch."
"I might get a little ahead of myself, but I'm not going to rush it," Sanders said. "Lower back is one of those injuries you can't really rush because you don't want it to linger."
The news was worse for Pistons rookie phenom Andre Drummond. The 19-year-old had been trying to play through lingering pain in his tailbone over the past week before being diagnosed with a stress fracture that will sideline him 4-6 weeks. Drummond has been a handful for the Bucks' big men down low all season, particularly in the teams' last matchup that saw Drummond score 18 points along with 18 rebounds.
New look Pistons. Detroit's facilitating role in the Rudy Gay-to-Toronto trade netted them Jose Calderon's expiring contract in exchange for longtime Piston small forward Tayshaun Prince, a move motivated mostly by Joe Dumars' desire to unload the $15 million that Prince was owed through 2015. Remarkably, Prince, Knight, Jason Maxiell, and Greg Monroe had started every game together this season leading up to the trade, with shooting guard Kyle Singler starting all but eight games. The move led to Lawrence Frank's decision to bump Singler into Prince's old spot, slide Brandon Knight to shooting guard and install Calderon at the point, though effectively the Pistons now have two ballhandlers/playmakers starting together. Calderon has averaged 10 points and nearly seven assists on 52%/40% shooting in three games since the trade, around what he was putting up in Toronto in the same amount of playing time (29 mpg).
Detroit snapped a three game skid last night at home against the Spurs, who had won 11 straight heading into the contest. It's worth pointing out that neither Tim Duncan nor Manu Ginobili were able to play for San Antonio, but it's still a quality and much-needed win for the Pistons.
Monroe dropped 26/16 last night and figures to once again be the focal point of the Pistons' offense tonight, a role he's excelled in against the Bucks over the years. Monroe has shot 61% in 11 career games against the Bucks, averaging 18 points and 10 boards in three games against the Bucks this year and 21/12 last year. Neither Sanders nor anyone else on Milwaukee's roster has shown the strength down low needed to stop the brawny and skilled Monroe, and with Drummond on the shelf you can expect to see more of Monroe than usual.
Brandon's shot. Brandon Jennings has always been at his worst in February, shooting just 33% from the field and scoring a measly 12.9 ppg in his career in the month of February. That's a whopping 6% and 5 ppg worse than in any other month, and this season hasn't been an exception either. Jennings has struggled from everywhere on the court in four February games so far (.354/.300/.611) and the Bucks have not coincidentally lost four of five.
Out like a Lamb. We were hoping Doron Lamb might be able to resuscitate his confidence down in the D-League, but so far that's not happening. Lamb didn't score a single point in Fort Wayne's loss on Wednesday, missing all four of his shots in 18 minutes, before finally breaking out a bit last night with 18 points (6/15 fg, 1/2 threes, 5/6 ft), five rebounds and one turnover. He's now shooting a turgid 29.5% in 115 minutes of D-League action, which is somehow worse than the 35% he's posted as a Buck this season.
Lamb isn't the first second rounder to struggle to find his niche in the NBA and a recent ankle injury could still be a factor as well. But aside from a couple nice performances in the preseason, Lamb's rookie year has been about as bad as anyone could have expected: an early shoulder injury robbed him of most of camp and he hasn't been able to make shots all season, a fact that has made his tumble out of the backcourt rotation rather understandable.
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