ST. FRANCIS, Wis. Monday was something of an odd day for the Milwaukee Bucks.
For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, the team took part in a full practice.
The compressed, 66-game schedule this season has left little time for practice or film sessions, as teams are playing as many as four games a week. The Bucks recently played four games in a five-night stretch and have played 13 of their first 23 games on the road, leaving little time to fine tune."We needed a practice to shore things up a little bit and get our focus back," said assistant coach Jim Boylan, taking over for head coach Scott Skiles, who missed practice due to illness. "(We've had) a lot of slippage in a lot of different areas and having a day like today gives you a chance to get back to your basics."The practice couldn't come at a better time. After disappointing losses Friday in Detroit and Saturday against the Bulls, the 10-13 Bucks have a hefty slate ahead of them beginning with a rematch Tuesday against Phoenix at the Bradley Center.After that, it's on the road for contests at Toronto and Cleveland two teams close to the Bucks in the playoff race and back home Saturday against Orlando with a third meeting with the Heat coming Monday."It's a big week for us coming up," Boylan said. "It's good to have an opportunity to get out here and get something done."Jackson waits: Stephen Jackson is healthy, available and ready to play.In the meantime, though, he's just waiting for his chance.The veteran guard told reporters Monday that he is continuing to show up each day, work in practice and supporting his teammates even though he's played just nine minutes in the Bucks' last four games and has seemingly fallen out of the rotation."I've been showing my commitment every day," Jackson said. "I've been up cheering, supporting the team. At end of the day I'm going to support my teammates. Everybody knows I'm a team guy."Skiles has denied any sort of rift between himself and Jackson and said that Jackson's playing time, or lack thereof, has been due to the way the team has performed in his absence.Jackson said any perceived lack of communication wasnt important.My job is to play basketball, Jackson said. My job is not to be here to be friends with anybody. I get paid to play basketball.As for what Jackson needs to do to get back on the court, Boylan couldnt provide any insight."That's something that will be discussed, Boylan said. Nothing lasts forever. Things change, especially in this league.Point guard Brandon Jennings said he was disappointed that Jackson didn't play Saturday in Milwaukee's 113-90 loss to the Bulls, and emphasized that Jackson is still a "big part of (the) team, no matter what.""Just his presence probably could have changed the game, you just never know," Jennings said. "Especially a guy like that who has been sitting down for so long. When they're sitting down for so long and they come in, they've always got that spark that can help us."Jackson wouldn't comment on speculation that he's requested a trade."It is what it is," Jackson said. "I'm coming to work every day. If I'm called, I'll be ready, point blank. I can't get into what if or what I want to do.In 18 games this season (13 starts), Jackson is averaging 12.1 points, 3.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds while shooting a career-worst 36.2 percent from the field. On his Twitter account Sunday, Jackson posted a message to his fans: "I am not hurt. I wanna play. I love the game and my teammates too much. Fyi"Jennings in the All-Star conversation: Despite two subpar games, Jennings' name is still mentioned as a possible All-Star candidate.Through Sunday, Jennings is 13th among NBA guards with 19.9 points per game the top on his team and is averaging 5.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds while playing 36 minutes a night.I think he's had a very good season, Boylan said. His numbers are very improved from last season. Coaches notice that. He's had some really, really strong games against other Eastern Conference teams.Just three years into his career, just getting his name into the debate is a sign of progress.Sometimes that's a step you need to make first, Boylan said. When the voting is over and your name as brought up as somebody who should have made it, the next year you're in the conversation and once you get to that point, your chances increase.Jennings isnt concerning himself with the process right now, focusing instead on what the team needs to do to get back on track.Im not really thinking about it at all, Jennings said. Whatever happens happens. Im just trying to worry more about the team and that weve lost the last two games and we need a win tomorrow.Starters were announced last week and league coaches were to submit their votes for reserve players Monday.
Follow Andrew Wagner on Twitter.