MILWAUKEE--O.J. Mayo was back in the Milwaukee Bucks lineup on Thursday night after missing 10 straight games due to illness and conditioning issues.
And he took a good first step by playing 23 minutes in the Bucks' 101-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Milwaukee (10-44) again failed in a bid to win two straight games, something it has not accomplished while compiling the worst record in the NBA.
Forward Kenneth Faried brought his physical, energetic brand of play and finished with 26 points and six rebounds as the Nuggets (25-28) ended a five-game skid and won for the first time since beating Milwaukee in Denver on Feb. 5.
But Mayo was able to contribute again as he played for the first time since Jan. 25. He finished with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and hit his first three shots.
"I felt real good, man," Mayo said. "I was excited to be out there and be able to compete with the guys.
"When my name got called today I wanted to go out there and play the right way and get a win."
But Milwaukee was never able to catch up with the Nuggets (25-28), who led from the outset and turned back every comeback attempt the Bucks could muster.
Caron Butler led the Bucks with 17 points, and Ersan Ilyasova added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Earlier in the day the Bucks made a trade with Charlotte to obtain guard Ramon Sessions and forward Jeff Adrien in exchange for guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour. Both teams were a bit short-handed due to injuries and trade deadline deals.
The Bucks used their 24th starting lineup of the season when point guard Brandon Knight could not play because of a right heel injury.
Mayo said he was ready to return to the court.
"It was basketball," Mayo said. "Anytime you are not playing you are definitely somewhere watching it. I got a chance to go to the Marquette game last night, watching (games) on TNT, ESPN. I'm a basketball junkie so I'm always around the game. I always find myself staying ready one way or another."
Bucks coach Larry Drew saw some positive signs in Mayo's return.
"I thought he did a really good job," Drew said. "I saw some really good energy in him. From a rhythm standpoint, I thought he played within himself and he really exerted himself on the defensive end.
"He's going to have to play his way into shape. He's not in shape right now but I told him I wanted him to give me the nod when he needed to get a blow. But having been out as long as he's been out, I thought he played well tonight.
"I want to get him back to top-notch form. I believe he played 22 or 23 minutes tonight, but I want to get him up over 30 on a consistent basis."
There was one bizarre moment caught on video in the first half when Mayo bent over to tie his shoe while the Bucks were on defense.
"I just didn't want to trip over my shoestring," he said.
Mayo had not scored in double figures since Jan. 11 at Oklahoma City when he had 16 points.
"I feel good. I'm really just battling a strained Achilles a little bit," Mayo said. "I strained it a little bit in workouts, but other than that I feel great."
The Bucks dropped to 1-4 on their current home stand that ends Saturday night against Central Division leader Indiana. And they fell to 1-20 against Western Conference teams.
"I think these last 28 games are big for us to set a foundation going into next year, knowing and learning as a young team how hard it is to win games," Mayo said.
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