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The biggest question facing the made-over Milwaukee roster is defense, something the Bucks have struggled with this season.

“We’re having some really nice, like five- to seven-minute stretches where we’re really locking things down defensively,” Skiles said. “And that’s the reason we’ve been able to win some games. We just haven’t done it for real long periods of time, which ultimately we’re going to have to do.”

Asked to assess Ellis‘ defensive ability, Skiles was somewhat cautious.

“He’s been good in certain situations, especially when he’s been given a challenge to guard more of a main guy,” Skiles said. “And like a lot of the NBA players, if it’s somebody that doesn’t appear to be a main guy, there can be some slippage. But he certainly has that ability.”

Hammond said Udoh can help on the defensive end; in a conversation after the trade, Ellis told Hammond that Udoh might be a “steal” in the deal.

“You can’t run without the ball,” Hammond said. “And I think Ekpe’s going to help us in that regard. We needed to increase and help our interior defense, and this guy is going to be a very good goaltender for us.”

Skiles said he’ll miss Bogut, and hoped the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft would get a fresh start after an injury-plagued stay in Milwaukee.

Then there’s the departure of Jackson, who appeared to fall out of favor with Skiles and hasn’t been playing lately because of what the team described as a hamstring injury. Asked if he was relieved that Jackson’s situation is resolved, Skiles downplayed any sense of tension.

“It’s just one of those things,” Skiles said. “I wouldn’t go that far. It’s just part of the trade.”

Jennings was also careful when asked why Jackson’s short stay with the Bucks didn’t turn out better.

“I really can’t put my hand on that,” Jennings said. “That’s a touchy situation between Jackson and Coach. But at the end of the day, he was still positive with everybody around the team, still a great guy in the locker room, a great guy to have around.”

And while Jennings said it was tough watching teammates leave in a trade, he’s excited about the possibilities of teaming with Ellis.

“I’m thinking we can get 100-some points a night,” Jennings said. “It’ll be great _ and more TV time.”