HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! And thanks for stopping by in the Milwaukee Bucks-o-sphere during this busy week of festivities (hope yours isn't too hectic). While I'm making a list and checking it twice for my "gifts the Bucks can give their fans this Christmas" blog, check out this firsthand injury update Bucks center Andrew Bogut provided Sunday on his blog.
Bogut feels like he's "a hundred years old" due to some very painful lower back problems he's been having since last Wednesday — bad news for the Bucks as they prepare to take on the Utah Jazz at the Bradley Center tonight (tip off at 7:10pm). Bogut describes in excruciating detail the nature of the injury, the treatment and the pain, which began in Philly as he was waking up in his hotel bed.
After receiving chiropractic treatment later that day, Bogut learned that "a couple" of his vertabrae were "stuck together." This is causing severe pain from his lower back down through his hips. Bogut was sluggish in the Philly game and had trouble getting to loose balls and rebounds but appeared to do a better job battling through the injury Friday and Saturday against the Knicks and the Clippers. The credit, Bogut writes, goes to the Bucks training staff:
"I was lucky enough to be able to play through the last 3 games with it, mainly because our trainers did a great job of getting me warm and loose enough to go out there and perform, oh along with some sort of magic pain pill which works wonders. The only problem is waking up the next morning and needing a wheel chair for the first hour or two."
Did you say "magic pain pill" Bogues? If it works wonders, has it had an impact on your free throw shooting? Bingo. Including the Utah game (won by the Bucks 94-86), Bogut's 9 of 13 from the line (69.3%) in his four magic pill games. That's a big improvement over the 52.1% he was shooting this season and better than the 58.9% he had shot in his career pre-magic pill. May this magical wonder never cease.
Note: The link to 'Drew's website takes you to an entrance portal where you'll be asked to register. It's worth the while, and I wish I'd posted about the site back in September (sorry about that — I was undercover trying to find out why the Bucks drafted Joe Alexander; as you know, I came up with nothing but a lot of grumbling about Brett Favre and the Brewer bats). From here on out, you'll find a link to Bogut's site in my blogroll in the panel to your right. The guilt is killing me.
Bogut blogs fairly regularly as far as NBA blogs go, mostly to give his Australian fans a window into the life of an NBA player. He also features interviews with other Australian ballers playing around the world. He's promised an update soon on Brad Newley (Houston Rockets property currently playing in Greece.) You may remember Newley from Bogut's Australian National Team. Note to John Hammond: The 6' 6" Newley's the basketball version of a U.S. Marine and is perhaps the best all-around Australian player in history. He can also knock down a shot and would be a great fit on Skiles' Bucks.
Bucks vs. Jazz: As I wrote on our fan message boards here at Sportsbubbler, I'm not yet sold on the Bucks ticket to the playoffs, despite the blowout wins against the Knicks and Clippers over the weekend. The only teams with winning records the Bucks have beaten so far are Miami without big forward Udonis Haslem and the Spurs without Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
Of course, the Bucks have had plenty injuries of their own. Michael Redd missed 14 games making a long, slow recovery from a high ankles sprain; Charlie Bell was playing hurt the entire time Redd was out and has missed 6 games since Redd's return; Luke Ridnour started the season with back trouble and has missed 3 games; and Charlie Villanueva has missed 4 games.
The Bucks went into Atlanta without Bogut after he smashed his knee taking a charge defending Dwight Howard (Bogut missed three games) and still came within two in the final minute. But that's life in the NBA — 18-10 Atlanta isn't exactly formidable without its rugged forward, Josh Smith, and he was out that game too. The Hawks are 11-5 with Smith in the lineup but a still-respectable 7-5 without him.
More than anything, the meltdown in the 4th quarter against Philly last week kicked some of the sand out of my optimism about the Bucks. Did the loss in Philly tell us more about the Bucks than the blowouts against the Knicks and Clippers? When do the Bucks start looking to making a trade (or two) that might help vault the team from the land of NBA mediocrity?
These next four games vs. Utah tonight and Detroit Saturday at the BC; and games vs. the Spurs and Rockets in Texas next week should give Bucks fans the answers to questions about the team. All four teams have winning records, though the Pistons have played sub-.500 ball since acquiring Allen Iverson — a fact that isn't so relevant for the Bucks because Iverson is a nightmare matchup for the Bucks guards. The Answer killed the Bucks off the bench in the Bucks-Pistons first meeting.
The 17-12 Jazz and 15-11 Pistons have beaten the Bucks once apiece this season, in their buildings. The Bucks beat the 18-10 Spurs at the BC in November while Ginobili and Parker were recovering from ankle injuries. The Bucks have not yet played the Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Milwaukee native Carl Landry and the 19-10 Rockets.
Tonight the Jazz will be playing without All-Pro power forward Carlos Boozer (no relation to our Bob Boozer). Even without Boozer, the Jazz are a hardnosed playoff team with a great coach in Jerry Sloan. In Boozer's absence big forward Paul Millsap has been a force, filling the void by averaging 15 pts, 9 rebs so far this season.
The Jazz are playing the last game of a 5-game road trip East tonight, but the Bucks can't bring their Philly game and expect to earn their first win against a playoff-tested opponent. Bogut's back problems won't make the task any easier.
Well, now the latest from the BC is that Utah Center Mehmet Okur will not play due to back spasms. It does pay sometimes to have a tough Aussie in the post, and a bottle of magic pain pills.
Suddenly, the Jazz game is one the Bucks should win in front of the home fans.
Wow, these guys may be one of the greatest shows on earth. The Rim Rockers, Milwaukee's own amazing flying basketball circus, set a number of world records Saturday during halftime of the Bucks-Clippers game. An official from the Guinness Book of World Records was on hand to record it all.
Unfortunately, the folks who run the Bucks website are not so amazing. I can't give you the link to the video of the Rim Rockers gravity-defying performance because the so-called link to it on the Bucks official website goes to video highlights of the Bucks' Scott-Skiles-aggravating meltdown in Philly last week.
This dunk in the Bucks.com photo at left was one for the Guinness book: It was the highest 360-degree backflip dunk in the history of recorded trampoline-aided backflip dunks.