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MILWAUKEE – There was no one happier to see Milwaukee reserve forward Mike Dunleavy return to the court this week than Bucks coach Scott Skiles.
Dunleavy, the Bucks' top reserve, missed seven games with a bone bruise on his left knee, leaving Milwaukee without the firepower off the bench that Skiles had gotten used to over the first few weeks of the season.
"Glad to have Mike back," Skiles said. "He's been out longer than we thought, longer than he thought, longer than we wanted. He's been our best shooter so it will be good to have him back."
Dunleavy went out and proved his coach right, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds in a 98-93 victory over Indiana on Tuesday night. He grabbed a key rebound of his own missed 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining and scored to keep the Bucks in front.
The 10-year veteran played 27 minutes in his return and was on the court when the game was on the line late in the fourth quarter.
"It didn't seem like he had been out," Skiles said. "He's not known for being a great athlete. He is really long and he has a really great basketball set. When he is around the rim, usually something good happens."
Dunleavy said it just felt good to be back on the court and to contribute to the win.
"I felt very comfortable out there," said Dunleavy, who hit 3 of 5 3-pointers. "I feel like my condition is a little bit down, but I felt good. I hate missing games, but it's good to be back and good to get a win. It was a dog fight. We were fortunate enough to get a win."
Dunleavy followed up by playing 26 minutes on Wednesday night, getting seven points on 3-of-8 shooting in a 90-80 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Before Wednesday night's game, Dunleavy was averaging 11.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He scored 29 points Nov. 3 to help the Bucks beat Cleveland 105-102.
Skiles said Dunleavy's shooting ability will help the Bucks, who have struggled shooting in recent weeks.
"You just got to make them," Skiles said. "This is professional basketball. You have to go out there and you have to make shots."
Pacers coach Frank Vogel knows all about Dunleavy's shooting ability and was wary to see him return against the Pacers. He spent almost five seasons with Indiana, averaging 19.1 points during the 2007-08 season.
"We know what he's capable of, obviously, having been with our team for a number of years," Vogel said. "They're a struggling 3-point shooting team. So to have him back in the lineup should give them a big lift."