Now the struggling Bucks will have to get by without him Saturday—and for the next several weeks—when they host the Indiana Pacers at the Bradley Center.
The 22-year-old Villanueva was averaging 14.6 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds his first eight games, but will miss four-to-six weeks due to a torn ligament in his left elbow. The 6-foot-11 Villanueva was injured colliding with Atlanta’s Josh Childress during Milwaukee’s 103-101 win Tuesday over the Hawks and did not play in a 100-87 loss Wednesday to New Jersey.
Milwaukee (3-6) acquired Villanueva from Toronto in exchange for guard T.J. Ford.
Journeyman Brian Skinner likely will continue to start for Villanueva. Skinner, who has averaged 5.2 points over eight-plus seasons with six teams, had no points and five rebounds in 21 minutes against the Nets.
Michael Redd, the NBA’s leading scorer at 31.3 points per game, will need to continue his early dominance. Redd is shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 88.4 from the foul line. He had an NBA season-high 57 points in a 113-111 loss Nov. 11 to Utah.
“I definitely feel like I’m being more aggressive this season,” Redd told bucks.com. “I’m just going back to being the more aggressive Michael Redd. When I came out of college, I was more of a slasher, so it’s something that I did a lot in the past. I’ve started to concentrate on it more.”
Redd had 25 points in the loss to New Jersey as the Bucks shot a season-worst 31-for-76 (40.8 percent) and matched a season high with 21 turnovers. Point guard Mo Williams had 26 points and will need to be a viable second option if the Bucks are to win for the second time in their last seven games.
“It was good to see Mo make some shots,” Bucks coach Terry Stotts said.
Indiana (4-5) will try to avoid losing its fourth straight Saturday after failing to hold an early fourth-quarter lead in Friday’s 100-91 defeat to New Jersey. The Pacers had erased an early 14-point deficit and led 75-71 before faltering.
“We got off to another terrible start. It’s something you can’t do in this league, especially at home,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “We got some good energy off the bench. … We got the lead back, but Jersey’s a good team.”
Al Harrington had 18 points and Jermaine O’Neal scored 13 of his 17 in the third quarter, but guard Stephen Jackson again struggled and scored only seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. After averaging 17.2 points in his first two seasons with Indiana, he is scoring just 10.8 points per game and shooting 33.0 percent from the floor.
“We’ve got some guys that are struggling and we’re struggling as a team,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to fight through it. We knew the beginning of the season was going to be a challenging stretch. But we’re not getting any sympathy from other teams. This is what you go through.”
The Pacers have failed to reach 100 points in their last six games and are averaging just 94.0 points. Their 42.4 shooting percentage is 29th in the league, ahead of only the Memphis Grizzlies.
The home team won all four games last season, with the Bucks winning 96-89 in the most recent meeting April 1.