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News » BUCKS 108, NUGGETS 102 Good home cookin' Jennings has 32 as Bucks hang on

BUCKS 108, NUGGETS 102 Good home cookin' Jennings has 32 as Bucks hang on

BUCKS 108, NUGGETS 102  Good home cookin'  Jennings has 32 as Bucks hang on By TOM ENLUND

Only six games into the National Basketball Association season, the Milwaukee Bucks aren't about to risk pulling any muscles while trying to pat themselves on the back after a victory.

Even so, there might be something to be said about the Bucks' ability to hold off the Denver Nuggets, one of the premier teams in the Western Conference, down the stretch for a 108-102 victory Wednesday night at the Bradley Center.

The Bucks lost almost all of a 12-point lead they held early in the fourth quarter, but held off the veteran Nuggets in the closing minutes.

"There's still a long ways to go," said center Andrew Bogut. "But I think it's a great stepping stone for us to beat a team that was almost Western Conference champions. We still have a long, long way to go and we need to sustain this. We can't have one good game and one bad game, two good games and two bad. We need to keep sustaining this. But we've had three-four-five games now that have been pretty good."

Said point guard Brandon Jennings, "They came back a little bit . . . it's Denver. But we held them at the end."

Jennings hit a pair of crucial three-point shots late in the game, sank his free throws in the closing seconds and led Milwaukee with 32 points and nine assists. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

"He's got some very unique talents," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.

Bogut got rolling early, scoring 13 points in the first quarter and finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Bogut made 10 of 15 shots and blocked four shots.

Ersan Ilyasova provided a nice spark off the bench as he sank 3 three-pointers and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

The Bucks were on the short end of the free-throw game through the first three quarters but made 11 of 12 foul shots in the fourth.

Carmelo Anthony made all 14 of his free throws and finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who showed plenty of life in the fourth quarter for a team that was playing the final game of a six-game trip.

The Bucks led after three quarters, 81-72, and a three-point play by Ilyasova opened the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets rallied and had the lead down to 88-86 after a dunk by center Nene with 7:12 seconds left.

A layup by Denver guard Chauncey Billups cut Milwaukee's lead to 91-90 with 4:23 left, but Jennings answered with consecutive three-point baskets to give Milwaukee a 97-90 lead with 3 minutes left.

Ilyasova then tacked on three free throws, but Denver scored seven straight to cut the lead to 100-97. Bogut scored from the lane with 24.7 seconds left and the Bucks held on from there although the Nuggets drew to within two.

The Bucks were happy to hold on at the end.

"Especially after the Chicago game (on Nov. 3)," said guard Charlie Bell. "Being up almost 20 points and pretty much giving that (Chicago) game away.

"I think we've come a long way and we're going to do our best not to let that happen again. They made a run and we were able to maintain our composure and get some shots. Even though we turned it over a few times, we were able to come up with some stops on defense which is something we didn't do in Chicago."

A building block for the Bucks ?

"I hope so," said Skiles. "A win like this is only big if you follow up on it Saturday (against Golden State). That's always how I believe. If we come out on Saturday and somehow don't win . . . a big win is something you look back on and you say, 'Hey, that was big.' It started a streak or something like that.

"But this is a quality team and it's a contending team that has a high level of toughness that we were able to hold off. So I was proud of my guys tonight." Charles F. Gardner posts news and notes at

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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