Jabari Parker's knee surgery was successful, plus other Bucks silver linings
Hey, look, in the spirit of not spending the next year moping and grumbling about the Bucks being cursed and Jabari Parker's knee making everyone very sad and potentially having to already relinquish those once-seemingly guaranteed rights to Future Ownership, here's a bit of good news, as utterly unremarkable and desperately silver-lining-seeking as it may be.
Parker underwent surgery to repair his torn left anterior cruciate ligament on Tuesday, and it was a success. A success! The operation was performed at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., by specialist Dr. Robert LaPrade, according to the team.
Parker, who was injured last week against the Heat, will miss the remainder of the 2016-17 season as he recovers and rehabilitates from his second left ACL tear in 26 months. He is expected to be out for 12 months, and a timeline for his return to basketball activity will be established at a later date.
Averaging career highs of 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds this season and establishing himself as one of the league's up-and-coming stars, Parker went down on a non-contact play in the third quarter of Milwaukee's Feb. 8 home loss to Miami. With the BMO Harris Bradley Center crowd in stunned silence, Parker was unable to stand up on his own, eventually being helped up by teammates and limping off the court. Initially called a knee sprain, an MRI next day revealed the full damage.
Since the loss to the Heat – in which Khris Middleton, who'd missed the first 50 games with a hamstring injury, made his season debut – and a subsequent home defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bucks have won two games in a row, beating the Pacers in Indiana and the Detroit Pistons at home.
Those were Milwaukee's first consecutive victories in more than a month, and two of their most impressive overall performances since the calendar flipped to 2017. Head coach Jason Kidd called the win at Indiana one of the Bucks' best games as a team – they assisted on 28 of their 35 field goals, committed just six turnovers and made a season-high 17 three-pointers – and the triumph over Detroit marked the first time since Jan. 2 that Milwaukee had held an opponent under 100 points. More dark-cloud silver linings?
Without Parker, forward Michael Beasley has moved into the starting lineup, and in Monday's win against the Pistons the veteran scored 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting, resembling the player that was drafted No. 2 overall in 2008. Against the Pacers on Saturday, 19-year-old rookie center Thon Maker tied his career-high with 12 points.
In the past two games, Milwaukee's bench has scored 55 and 49 points; backup center Greg Monroe has been dominant, averaging 21 points and 10.5 rebounds, while precocious rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon has averaged 12 points and four assists without a turnover. Shooting guard Tony Snell has made a combined 8 of 13 three-pointers. On Monday, Middleton scored a season-high 11 points, hitting 4 of 7 shots and showing off his sweetly familiar midrange jumper.
"We have a deep roster," Beasley said. "I think we've shown it all season and it's unfortunate that (Parker) went down. Us being family, me being his brother, you have to pick up the slack and hold the fort down until he gets back."
If the Bucks beat the woeful Nets in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, they'll enter the All-Star Break on a three-game winning streak, their longest since Jan. 4. Despite a recent stretch in which they lost 12 of 14 games and traded center Miles Plumlee to the Hornets for two players the team has yet to use, Milwaukee is still only one game behind Detroit for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. In this week's episode of The Postgame Tailgate podcast, OnMilwaukee's Jeff Sherman and Matt Mueller argued that postseason experience – even as a low seed, and without Parker – would benefit the Bucks.
During All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, Milwaukee fans can watch co-owner Marc Lasry compete in the Celebrity Game, followed by Brogdon in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, as his U.S. squad takes on the World Team Friday night. Then, on Sunday, Giannis Antetokounmpo – the Bucks' first All-Star selection since Michael Redd in 2004 – will start for the East in the 66th NBA All-Star Game.
Brooklyn has lost 13 straight games, and Kidd is 9-1 as a coach against the Nets. Coming 55 games into the season, the All-Star Break arrives at a good time for Milwaukee, which needs not only the physical rest, but also the mental and emotional respite after the losing, roster and lineup changes and injury news of the past month.
"It's always good to end the first half on a positive note," Kidd said. "It's not going to be easy on the road in Brooklyn. You can start thinking about vacation or the All-Star Game.
"So we have one more thing before the break: We have to find a way to win on the road and put ourselves back in the playoff race."
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