It has been a season of frustration for Bucks center Andrew Bogut and his latest setback will keep him out of action indefinitely. That leaves Milwaukee a big hole in the middle this evening as it visits a Chicago Bulls club looking to rebound from its first home loss of the season.
Bogut, Milwaukee's leading rebounder with 8.3 per game to go along with 11.3 points and 2.0 blocks a night, sat out four straight games due to personal reasons from Jan. 3-8 and also missed a game on Jan. 13 due to concussion-like symptoms. He returned to action three nights later and played in six straight contests including Wednesday's 105-99 victory over Houston.
The seven-footer played just nine minutes and 29 seconds though before suffering a left ankle injury that was revealed by an MRI yesterday to be a fracture. That will put the top pick of the 2005 draft out of action for the foreseeable future.
It's just the latest setback for Bogut, who has also battled right elbow, wrist and hand injuries as well as a lower back issue in his career.
"I just can't seem to catch a break," said Bogut on Wednesday in what was his 400th career game. "Coming back from injuries is tough. It's unlucky and frustrating. Someone has a voodoo doll and is putting pins in me."
Milwaukee was able to survive without its big man, getting 20 points each from Brandon Jennings and Stephen Jackson for the club's first win in Houston since Nov. 2, 1999. It was the Bucks' third win in four games overall and third straight on the road after starting the season 0-8 as the guest.
Jennings, who is averaging 26.0 points per game over his last five contests, added six assists and Mike Dunleavy Jr. deposited a season-high 18 points as Milwaukee won for the first time this year when trailing at the half. It has its bench to thank after the unit outscored Houston's reserves by 51 points. Ersan Ilyasova stepped in for Bogut and grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds.
"It was a good win," said Dunleavy. "We're starting to play well on the road. We got a cushion in the fourth quarter and held on to win."
The Bucks recent success on the road figures to be challenged tonight by the Bulls, who captured their first eight in Chicago prior to Wednesday's 95-90 setback to the visiting Pacers. The loss snapped the Bulls' four-game overall win streak and was only their second in their past 11 overall.
Though Derrick Rose played in his second game since missing the previous five due to a left toe sprain, the guard netted just two of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. Ronnie Brewer added 20 points and 10 rebounds for a Chicago club that remains without Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. Deng has missed the past two with a left wrist ailment, while Gibson is battling a left ankle sprain.
Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau didn't think his team was ready to play, and Rose respected that position.
"As a player, I didn't see it. But as a coach, he sees everything," said Rose. "So the only thing we can do is come here (next time) and go through the shootaround and the walk-though and be professional."
Chicago wraps a four-game homestand looking to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season. The club hasn't lost two straight in nearly a year, since Feb. 5-7, and has still won 44 of its past 50 at home dating back to last season.
The Bulls swept the Bucks in four games a season ago for the first time since the 2006-07 season and have won seven of the past 10 encounters overall. Milwaukee has lost two straight, 10 of 11 and 17 of its last 20 in Chicago.