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Bucks practice in Al McGuire Center

Julia Pagliarulo

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Photo by Julia Pagliarulo / julia.pagliarulo@marquette.edu

The Milwaukee Bucks finished off their All-Star break with an open practice at the Al McGuire Center Thursday afternoon, marking the last time fans will see point guard Brandon Knight in a Bucks uniform.

Ironically, Knight walked off the practice court with “No Place I’d Rather Be” blaring over the loud speakers minutes before the Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers pulled off a blockbuster three-team trade that will send Knight to Phoenix and bring Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to the Bucks.

Asked about any trades minutes before the 2 p.m. Central Time deadline, head coach Jason Kidd offered a short answer before speaking about the open practice.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Kidd said of the trade deadline. “As of 2 o’clock that question will be eliminated and that will be here shortly. It was a great practice here at Marquette for the kids and for the fans for them to come out and watch us practice.”

Doors opened at 11:30 a.m. to admit fans from the Marquette and Milwaukee communities to a practice that included player warm-ups, drills and a short scrimmage, as well as performances from the Bucks’ Dancers and the Rim Rockers. The practice is the latest installment in a growing partnership between the Bucks and Marquette, which is most notably responsible for the future construction of a health research and athletic facility on Marquette’s campus.

The practice opened with Bucks’ television play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke addressing the crowd about what to expect from the practice and the Bucks’ progress in the season. Bucks small forward Jared Dudley also spoke to the fans and mentioned the team’s playoff aspirations.

“Our eyes are on the playoffs and we are just trying to get better each week,” Dudley said. “We have a good group of guys that like to play with each other and we have a great opportunity to finish strong. We want to get off to a good start here starting tomorrow night (against Denver).”

Once the practice started the team ran through their normal progressions, warming up before engaging in a series of drills that included a three-man weave, five-on-five defensive rotations and a full-court scrimmage. Players teamed up with Marquette students to attempt a half-court shot for game tickets, but neither player nor student was successful for any of the participants.

When the practice ended, players threw signed balls into the crowd and the team permitted fans to come onto the court and interact with the players by getting autographs and pictures.

Power forward John Henson talked with some fans before speaking to the media about the practice and the remainder of the season.

“It was a great turnout, better than I expected,” said Henson of the crowd, which nearly filled the bottom bowl of the Al McGuire Center. “Over the rest of the season, we need to win the games we are supposed to win and steal some against some of the tougher teams.”

The Bucks will take on the Denver Nuggets tonight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center for their first game of the season without Knight and with new additions Carter-Williams, Ennis and Plumlee to finish off the last 29 games of the regular season.

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