Bucks Saturday: Larry Sanders breathes a sigh of relief

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Having a sick child takes a toll on a parent, something Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders became very familiar with over the past few days.

Sanders’ young son, Jasiah, came down with an illness requiring him to be admitted into a local hospital for two days. Sanders was able to bring his son home about an hour before Friday’s exhibition game against Toronto.

“He started getting discoloration (on a portion of his body), things like that,” Sanders said after Saturday’s practice at the Cousins Center. “It started to flare up, and we just wanted to get our hands on it before it becomes a problem. He’s back home now and running around.”

By his son’s side in the hospital for the past few days, Sanders tried to put a smile on his face for his child, but deep down the scare of the situation took a lot out of him emotionally.

“It’s tough, but I remember times being in the hospital and having comfort of my parents there,” Sanders said. “I just try to make it as enjoyable as I can for him. It takes a lot of effort. I was so uncomfortable, but I couldn’t let him see that. I had to show him a good time and make him feel good.”

Bucks coach Larry Drew has been there as a father. Knowing how draining what Sanders was going through can be, Drew decided to give his starting center the night off on Friday. Sanders did arrive in a suit just before Friday’s game was canceled due to an unsafe floor.

“He just has not been getting any rest,” Drew said. “I thought it would be better (to sit him out). I’ve been in that situation before and I know how that happens when you have a kid that’s sick. You are up with him all night. There was no need to try to push him last night.”

Injuries keep coming: Teams aren’t supposed to be as banged up as the Bucks are heading into the regular season.

Milwaukee practiced without point guard Brandon Knight on Saturday due to a sore left hamstring, while shooting guard Gary Neal (illness) and point guard Luke Ridnour (back, elbow) were limited. Small forward Caron Butler was going to miss Friday’s preseason game with a sprained left ankle, but he returned to participate in some of Saturday’s practice.

Because of all the injuries, Drew decided to keep Saturday’s practice short and will give the team off Sunday before practicing Monday and Tuesday before the season opener Wednesday in New York.

“We wanted to still come in here and get something done, get a little sweat,” Drew said. “We made it more of a mental day than anything. We tried to avoid the banging. Our focus right now is to get bodies back.”

Knight has missed the last two preseason games with the sore left hamstring, but he’s confident he’ll be back and ready to go for the opener.

“Resting it the past couple of games has helped it to calm down,” Knight said. “I’m on the right track so far. If it was the regular season, I would have still played with it. It’s not a big deal, but if you can have time to recover and try to be better prepared for the regular season then why not do that?”

Ersan Ilyasova continued to make progress in his recovery from a sprained right ankle, as he ran in a straight line and did some shooting off the dribble Saturday.

Estimating his ankle at 80 percent, Ilyasova said he’s not quite comfortable to return to practice until he can test the ankle by moving laterally, but he’s happy with how things are progressing.

“It’s always day by day,” Ilyasova said. “I did a lot of things today and we have to see what it’s going to be like tomorrow, soreness wise.

“It’s different when you play on a court because there’s a lot of different ways to move. There’s a lot of pushing up and down. Hopefully next week I’ll start practicing with the team.”

Drew is approaching things as if Ilyasova won’t play against the Knicks on Wednesday, but he’s hopeful to have his starting power forward back in the near future. Knight, Butler, Neal and Ridnour all should be ready to play when the season starts, but they all will benefit from having three days before having to play a game.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before, as far as guys being so banged up,” Drew said. “One of the last things you want to do is start a regular season with nagging injuries. But it’s the NBA. That’s all a part of it, and hopefully you have enough depth to be able to overcome it. I would like to feel we do, but even our reserve guys are banged up.

“We’ll just try to have these guys mend and have as many bodies as we can Wednesday to tip it off at Madison Square Garden.”

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