Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 4/5/12
MILWAUKEE -- Drew Gooden is having arguably the best season of his nine-year NBA career, and his play at the center position in the absence of Andrew Bogut -- first due to Bogut's injury and now in the wake of Bogut's trade is a key reason the Milwaukee Bucks are within one game of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.However, an injury to Gooden's lower back kept him out of Wednesday's win over Cleveland, and, based on coach Scott Skiles' comments, it could be a lingering issue."He can barely move," Skiles said of Gooden. "It seems a little counterproductive to play in the games and get up the next day and be so sore. We're just taking it day by day right now."During the Bucks' victory Monday night in Washington, Gooden did not play in the second half. His status for the back-to-back home games Friday and Saturday has not yet been determined.This season, Gooden is averaging 14.0 points 6.6 rebounds and a career-high 2.5 assists. He has also added a 3-point shot, a skill Gooden rarely showed off in his first eight seasons. After previously shooting less than one 3-pointer every three games, Gooden now averages more than one each game and makes them 30 percent of the time.Gooden's injury has allowed new acquisition Ekpe Udoh more minutes, which has been a positive for the Bucks -- especially on defense."(Udoh's) contribution has been good -- even though if you just looked at his stats you might not know that game-by-game since he's been here, but he's played really well for us," Skiles said. "Things happen when he's in the game. His contribution goes beyond whether he can put the ball in the basket. But on a night when he can, that's good, too."In 11 games with Milwaukee, Udoh is averaging 5.7 points -- which is consistent with his first 1 seasons in Golden State -- but his rebounding and assists are significantly up.But most important for Skiles, Udoh's defensive presence has made a difference around the basket. Recently, Skiles said the team's only good defensive minutes have come when Udoh has been on the court."Being able to get him back in that trade, a guy who can play some defense and protect the rim for us and guard multiple positions; he's played very well for us," Skiles said.In addition to Gooden's back injury, starting small forward Carlos Delfino missed his fifth consecutive game due to a right groin injury. Delfino is also listed as day-to-day but may not yet be ready for Friday's game against Charlotte. Luc Mbah a Moute has been starting in Delfino's spot.Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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