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Ilyasova Returns To Starting Lineup, Sanders To Come Off Bench

Larry Sanders backs down Charlotte’s Bismack Biyombo. The big man will make his return Friday after a 25-game absence.

Larry Sanders will make his return Friday night in Brooklyn, but it won’t be in a starting role.

Larry Drew said Friday that the big man would come off the bench and play around 20 minutes in his first game action since Nov. 3. Sanders missed 25 games with a torn ligament in his thumb suffered during a violent altercation at a Milwaukee night club.

If there is a silver lining to the situation, it’s that Sanders’ injury did not prevent him from maintaining his conditioning,

“I’m just going to play as hard as I can,” Sanders said. “I expect to be a little winded. I’m just going to try to contribute.”

The more pressing concern is how long it will take Sanders to regain his touch and shooting stroke, two aspects with which he struggled even before the injury.

“I stayed in the gym. Conditioning is up. I just have to get my feel back, my timing, my pace,” Sanders said.

Sanders isn’t the only Bucks player returning to the lineup. After being “shut down” for three games to rest his ailing right ankle, Ersan Ilyasova will return to the starting lineup. Drew had been bringing Ilyasova off the bench prior to the shut down, but the versatile forward struggled in that role and is averaging just 8.2 points on 30.5 percent shooting in nine December games.

Drew did not announce the rest of his starting lineup, but based on recent trends a starting five of Brandon Knight-Giannis Antetkounmpo-Khris Middleton-Ilyasova-John Henson seems like the most likely scenario.

Tags: Ersan Ilyasova Larry Sanders Milwaukee Bucks

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