Bucks' Brook Lopez back injury recovery; ready for contact

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 17: Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks walks to the bench prior to a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Fiserv Forum on November 17, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a

Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez is ready to participate in contact drills and five-on-five scrimmages after being sidelined since the season opener because of a back injury that required surgery.

"It’s another good, positive step for him on his return to play," coach Mike Budenholzer said before the Bucks' game Friday night in Chicago.

The 33-year-old Lopez played 28 minutes and had eight points, five rebounds and three blocks in a season-opening victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The 7-footer averaged 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last season while helping the Bucks win the NBA title.

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Budenholzer also said Milwaukee hopes to get guard George Hill (sore neck) back in the next week. He has been sidelined since Jan. 28.

Guard Pat Connaughton, meanwhile, "still has a ways to go" in his recovery from surgery on his right finger, Budenholzer said. Connaughton was hurt fouling Chris Paul on a drive to the basket in a 131-107 loss at Phoenix on Feb. 10. Connaughton was expected to miss four weeks.

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