Jennings leads Bucks over Nuggets
The rookie point guard scored 14 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, and Andrew Bogut added 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 108-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
“I came in here, wanted to learn and take (it) step-by-step,” Jennings said.
It appears to be leap-by-leap for the player who decided to skip college for the pros in Europe before being picked 10th overall.
“Fortunately, everything I learned over there seemed to impress the coaches and everybody,” he said. “I just go out there and play with a chip on my shoulder.”
And the results couldn’t be better for Milwaukee. Expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Bucks (4-2) are leading the Central Division.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a great game to win,” Bogut said.
Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and 10 rebounds for Denver (6-3).
“He ran out of gas a little bit,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We weren’t good enough offensively and we weren’t good enough defensively.”
Jennings, who also had nine assists, had already played his best game to date before Denver whittled a 10-point deficit with 10 minutes to play down to 91-90 on a layup by Chauncey Billups.
Jennings answered with consecutive 3-pointers, dribbling aimlessly on the second for most of the shot clock before slowing down and stepping back behind the 3-point line to make it 97-90 with Billups guarding him.
“I was feeling it from the first one,” Jennings said. “I knew it was in right as it left my hands. That was a great feeling.”
Billups, who finished with 19, was impressed with Jennings’ confidence.
“Give him credit, he stepped up and made some big, big shots. He was great all night,” Billups said. “That, to me, is sometimes more than the result.”
After another defensive stop, the Nuggets frustration began to run over. Kenyon Martin was whistled for a technical foul and Ersan Ilyasova made it 100-90 on three free throws with 2:41 left.
But Denver rallied, cutting it to 100-97 with 46 seconds to go on a 3-pointer by Billups. Bogut hit a 7-foot floater in the lane and J.R. Smith answered with a 3 with 21 seconds left to make it 102-100.
But Jennings kept up the pressure, hitting his final six free throws to seal it.
“Brandon has unique talents,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “We’re trying to put him in positions where he can make decisions because he’s normally very good at it.”
Denver got 18 points from Smith in his second game back from suspension and 16 from Nene. Ilyasova finished with 17 points, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 10.
Anthony picked up the pace midway through the third with Denver trailing by 12 when he took a hard foul from Bogut that drew a double technical. He went on to score 12 of Denver’s next 13 points, but the Nuggets trailed 81-72 to start the fourth.
Jennings was well on his way to a special night with a late spurt before the half, twice taking Chris Andersen to the basket. Jennings capped the second quarter by using a screen from Bogut and hitting a fading jumper over the outstretched Birdman to give Milwaukee a 53-47 halftime lead.
“He’s learned so much in (six) games, it’s like he’s played a season already,” Bogut said. “He’s hitting big shots for us, understands when to pass, when to drive. Defensively, he’s getting more involved. Nobody thought he would be this good yet.”