Bucks’ DiVincenzo savors return to action after long absence

Dec 27, 2021, 12:45 AM | Updated: 2:47 pm

FILE - Milwaukee Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo makes a basket against the Orlando Magic during the f...

FILE - Milwaukee Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo makes a basket against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. DiVincenzo always had a Christmas return on his mind as he made his comeback from an ankle injury that prevented him from joining his teammates for much of their drive to the championship last season. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo had a Christmas return on his mind as he made his comeback from an ankle injury that kept him from joining his teammates for much of their championship ride last season.

DiVincenzo was right on target, though not quite in the way he imagined.

He was on track to make his season debut in mid-December before the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols set him back. DiVincenzo finally returned for a Christmas Day victory over the Boston Celtics and is ready to do whatever he can to help the Bucks in their title defense.

“I targeted December the whole time and I just stuck by that,” DiVincenzo said Monday. “Because for me, as a competitor, as a player, you want to have something to work towards. I didn’t want to just kind of go in every day and just start doing rehab. I had this mindset I’m coming back in December. And ironically, in my head, I was saying Christmas.

“So, when they said, ‘Hey, you’re ready to come back the 15th,’ or whatever, I felt great. I would take it because it’s early. So then when the protocol happened, like I said, it was all part of God’s plan for me. I came back on Christmas. I had that mindset the whole time and I just stuck by it.”

DiVincenzo scored three points and played 16 minutes in the 117-113 win on Saturday but is expected to have a larger role as the season progresses. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard started all 66 regular-season games he played last year and averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 37.9% from 3-point range.

But he didn’t get to do much in the playoffs. DiVincenzo tore a ligament in his left ankle in Game 3 of a first-round series with the Miami Heat. He wouldn’t play again until Saturday.

“Seeing Donte out there was definitely a joy, just knowing what he’s been through and how much he’s meant to us and what he’s missed,” guard Jrue Holiday said after the Celtics game. “I know he loves the game, loves being out there.”

DiVincenzo, 24, said he felt a little rusty Saturday because he was unable to practice with the team while in the protocols. He said he was asymptomatic, but he still had to do his conditioning work at home and couldn’t use the team facility.

“I’m doing my pregame shooting and the ball feels a little weird,” DiVincenzo said. “You don’t think 10 days go by and you’re going to kind of lose feel and lose touch to it, but I’m telling you, you’re such a creature of habit and routine, when you don’t have that every day, it messes you up for a little while.”

DiVincenzo played on two national championship teams at Villanova and was named the most outstanding player of the 2018 Final Four. He’d love to match that total in the NBA by helping Milwaukee win a second straight title.

Only this time, he’d actually be playing rather than watching and rehabbing.

DiVincenzo acknowledged that it wasn’t easy having to deal with an injury while the Bucks made their championship run. He credited Bucks guard George Hill and former teammates Eric Bledsoe and Jeff Teague for helping him through the lengthy recovery.

Whenever he was feeling down, DiVincenzo could ask one of those veterans how they dealt with similar situations.

“Everybody goes through struggles being away from what they do, and those three guys really helped me out,” DiVincenzo said. “And I had my family. My family’s really my backbone. Even being out, I was the MVP last year to my family. Having that support is so important for me. Good day, bad day, whatever it is, they build me up and keep me up high.”

Now he is back and eager to have more good days than bad days.

“I’m healthy,” DiVincenzo said. “I feel great. My body feels good, so that’s all I can ask for.”


More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Bucks’ DiVincenzo savors return to action after long absence