Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are playing heavy minutes, and it's part of the job they accept willingly.
But the Milwaukee Bucks' backcourt tandem could be getting some relief soon.
Veteran guard Beno Udrih was back on the practice court Monday for the first time since spraining his right ankle in a game at Minnesota on Nov. 30. He has missed the last 12 games but hopes to play Wednesday night when the Bucks return to action against the Brooklyn Nets at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
"I want to be 100%," Udrih said. "Today it felt good. I think in two days it's going to get even better. I'm hoping I can feel really good so I can play on Wednesday. But I don't want to push it. I don't want to make it chronic or whatever."
The Bucks bench was producing at a high rate early in the season with both Udrih and Mike Dunleavy providing consistent play. But both were injured in the same game and Dunleavy missed seven games with a bruised left knee.
Now Dunleavy and Udrih will be reunited on a bench unit that also features power forward Ersan Ilyasova, center-forward Ekpe Udoh, forward Drew Gooden, centers Samuel Dalembert and Joel Przybilla, rookie guard Doron Lamb, rookie forward John Henson and small forward Tobias Harris.
Milwaukee ranks eighth in bench points (36.5 per game).
The Bucks have been without Harris for the last six games after he suffered a right elbow laceration, but the second-year pro returned to practice Monday.
So it's possible the Bucks could be close to full strength when they host the Nets in the first of two Christmas week home games. Milwaukee will play defending league champion Miami on Saturday night.
When Udrih returns, the 30-year-old is anxious to resume his role as the primary backup for both Jennings and Ellis.
"I still would like to get a couple more minutes, to get more than 17-18 minutes," said Udrih. "Between 20 and 25, that's where I'm really comfortable and effective.
"It will take some pressure off Brandon. Put Brandon on 2 (shooting guard). I still would love to do that. I've been saying that for a year and a half now.
"I just want to play hard. I looked when I was playing those minutes and it was always good."
Udrih is shooting 47.9% from the field and 75% at the free throw line through 13 games, while averaging 8.3 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 18.8 minutes.
Just before he was injured, he had a season-high 18 points against New York on Nov. 28. And he was a key part of the Bucks' comeback from a 27-point deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls, 93-92, on Nov. 26 at the United Center.
He also had 10 assists and no turnovers in a Bucks victory over Indiana on Nov. 14.
"Beno is a good all-around player," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "Beno can finish at the rim; he's a good open jump shooter.
"He's a veteran and he knows what's going on in the game. We've missed him out there, for sure."
Lamb played the primary backup guard role with Udrih out. But Skiles relied heavily on Jennings (43 minutes per game over the last four games) and Ellis (38.5 minutes per game during the same span).
Jennings played 48 minutes in the Bucks' overtime victory at Boston on Friday.
During the past month Udrih has made daily trips to Keystone Physical Therapy in Brookfield.
"I had treatment twice a day while the team was on the road," Udrih said. "That's what you've got to do."
He was encouraged by his return Monday on the Cousins Center court.
"I would say more sore than stiff," Udrih said of his feeling after making it through the entire practice session. "Certain parts, when I'm cutting to the basket, going left, that's when I put the most pressure on my ankle.
"Running, I can't really go 100% dead sprint. I've just got to get my speed. Today I was basically trying to go through the motions, just be there and run some plays.
"I managed a whole practice, so that's good. We'll see what happens tomorrow; it might be a little sore. But sometimes that actually helps."
Team photographer dies: Bob Tai, a team photographer and a fixture with the Bucks since the start of the franchise, died last week of natural causes, a team spokesman said. His exact age was not known, but he was in his 80s.
Tai was a friend of players and management and was rarely absent when the Bucks were playing at home.