Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is hopeful of getting key players Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton back soon after the NBA champions slumped to their third successive defeat.
The Bucks went down 107-95 to the Utah Jazz on Sunday, with two-time All-Star Middleton absent due to illness, which Budenholzer clarified after the game was not covid-19-related.
The loss condemned Milwaukee to yet another loss, leaving the Bucks 3-4 in their title defence as they struggle without All-Star Holiday (ankle), Brook Lopez (back) and Rodney Hood (hand).
Milwaukee – who had averaged 91.5 points on Halloween since the 2000-01 season, second lowest in the NBA heading into the matchup – were again forced to come from behind against the Jazz, trailing by 17 points at the final change, with a late rally not enough.
“The group kept fighting tonight,” Budenholzer said in a news conference. “The fight was good. We couldn’t quite get there but the guys were working.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo top-scored with 25 points, along with seven rebounds and six assists, but he lacked support with Holiday, Lopez and Middleton out.
Holiday has not played since injuring his ankle in the Bucks’ opening night win against Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets.
“Jrue, I think we’ll see how he feels in the morning,” Budenholzer said. “He actually got some basketball work in today and I think he’s trending in a good direction.”
On Lopez, he added: “There’s not a new update and there never really has been a timeline. But he’s doing good stuff in the weight room, doing good stuff to get better and he’ll continue that.”
Budenholzer also clarified the status of shooting guard Hood, who previously had a foot injury before undergoing scans on his hand.
“The X-rays the other day were inconclusive,” Budenholzer said. “On examination we decided he couldn’t play. We’ll get another X-ray and look at it tomorrow and hope for the best.”
The Bucks return to action on Tuesday against the lowly Detroit Pistons who are 1-5.