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Welcome to the 2021-22 edition of the Bucks Weekly Spotlight. Each Thursday, we’ll track the progress of the players who are trying to help Milwaukee make another championship run and give updates on other players from the previous week.

This is the 4th edition of the 2021-22 Bucks Weekly Spotlight.

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Guard Khris Middleton

Things haven’t gone as expected for the reigning NBA champions, who after 15 games own a below-.500 record.

One of those unanticipated circumstances has been the extended absence of Middleton, who missed eight games after testing positive for COVID-19 and undergoing testing protocols, finally cleared this week.

The Bucks went 3-5 in those contests without Middleton. Thus, his return Wednesday was greatly anticipated.

The rust of having not played since Oct. 30 showed. Middleton didn’t connect on a field-goal attempt in the first half. The second half – really the final 13 minutes -- was a different story.

Middleton nailed a couple of long jumpers in the final minute of the third quarter. He was just warming up.

In the fourth, with Milwaukee trailing the Los Angeles Lakers 87-86, he hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Bucks a lead they’d never relinquish in a 109-102 victory.

Middleton finished with 16 points, six assists, five rebounds and a block in 30 minutes – he had 12 points in just under 16 minutes in the second half – with a box score plus/minus of +13 (only George Hill, at +23, was in double digits for Milwaukee).

Those two 3s gave Middleton 1,051 with the Bucks, who he joined before the 2013-14 season, tying Hall of Famer Ray Allen for the most in franchise history.

It took a little longer than expected for Middleton to reach Allen’s mark. Breaking the record will happen in a much quicker fashion.

BUCKSHOTS

-- This week in Giannis: Antetokounmpo missed one game then came out with a vengeance against the Lakers, scoring 47 points on 18-of-23 shooting (78.3%). That type of game – 45+ points, 75%+ FG – hadn’t been done against the Lakers since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 1995.

-- Middleton hasn’t been the only Milwaukee player to miss time. With Brook Lopez out, Bobby Portis is getting extended playing time. This past week, Portis averaged 16.7 points – on 59.0% shooting – 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 33.8 minutes. He also gave us this beauty. Portis is averaging 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds over 27.3 minutes per game. He averaged 20.8 minutes last season with the Bucks and 21.1 in 2019-20 with the New York Knocks. He’s never averaged more than 26.0 minutes over a full season.

-- 3-point shooting can fluctuate week-to-week, but a few Bucks were on target this past week. Jordan Nwora made 5 of 9 (55.6%), Grayson Allen 10 of 21 (.47.6%), Pat Connaughton 10 of 22 (45.5%) and Antetokounmpo 6 of 14 (44.4%).

-- Jrue Holiday hadn’t dished out more than six assists in a game before last week. He had 13 against Boston and eight vs. both Atlanta and Los Angeles. Holiday had only two games last season – during the regular season – with 13+ assists, twice recording 14.