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News » BUCKS A shooting star Jennings pours in 55 points after scoreless 1st quarter

BUCKS A shooting star Jennings pours in 55 points after scoreless 1st quarter

BUCKS  A shooting star  Jennings pours in 55 points after scoreless 1st quarter By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Brandon Jennings did not score a point in the first quarter Saturday night at the Bradley Center.

So nobody was really figuring he would wind up with a scintillating 55-point outburst, just two off the Bucks franchise record, in leading Milwaukee to a thrilling 129-125 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Jennings scored 29 points in a third-quarter rally and hit 12 of 13 shots in the quarter in a performance that had teammates and fans alike shaking their heads in wonder.

"I've never witnessed anything like that," said Bucks forward Hakim Warrick. "He just really put the team on his back. Every shot he shot, you just knew it was going in.

"It was just his poise and confidence and the timing. There are a lot of players who can come and put up big numbers as a rookie. But to be down and to come through the way he came through makes it even more special."

Jennings broke a Bucks rookie record for scoring (51 points) set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) during the 1969-'70 season. And he was close to tying Michael Redd's single-game franchise record of 57. He became only the third Bucks player to score 50 points in a game, joining Abdul-Jabbar and Redd.

Jennings' double-nickel performance marked the most points by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe scored 56 on Feb. 13, 1968.

"The Warriors kept going under the screens, and in the first half, I wasn't taking advantage of it," Jennings said. "In the second half, I was like, 'If they're going to keep going under screens, I'm going to shoot it until it goes into the basket.'

"Luckily, I hit the first two, and it seemed like the rim kept getting bigger and bigger and I couldn't miss."

Jennings still had enough energy to score 16 points in the final quarter, sending the Bucks (5-2) to their fourth straight victory as they held off a determined push by the offensive-minded Warriors.

Jennings drilled a three-pointer for a 124-118 lead with 34.3 seconds left, but Monta Ellis sank a three and the Bucks committed a turnover. Corey Maggette drove for a basket to pull Golden State within a point, but the Bucks held on with Luke Ridnour hitting 1 of 2 free throws, and Jennings and Charlie Bell each hitting two foul shots in the final 20 seconds.

"I was in a game when Michael (Jordan) had over 60 once with the Bulls," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "We just went to our pick-and-roll game and spread the floor and he got hot. Again.

"He had 55 in three quarters. Very, very impressive performance for anyone, let alone a rookie in his seventh game."

Jennings did have some help, which he was quick to point out after the game. Center Andrew Bogut had 19 points and 11 rebounds despite playing just 33 minutes against the Warriors' small lineup, and Bell added 14 points and six assists.

Ridnour, playing in tandem with Jennings for much of the game, added 13 points and four assists.

But the talk in the Bucks locker room was about Jennings' latest exploits.

"I thought I was in great offensive rebound position every time," Bogut joked. "I was waiting for it to come off the rim, and it just kept going straight through. I could have padded the stats a little bit if he missed one or two of them.

"It's great for Brandon, great for his confidence."

The Bucks needed every one of Jennings' points to fend off the Warriors (3-6), who were coming off a 58% shooting performance in a victory in New York on Friday night.

They jumped on the Bucks early and finished shooting 56.1% (46 of 82), but they couldn't survive the Jennings onslaught.

"When we went into halftime and looked at clips, it was more our doing than theirs," said Skiles, whose team entered the game as the league leader in field-goal percentage defense. "I don't want to sell their players short, but we just didn't come out with the necessary defensive intensity.

"We just simplified it. We gave the ball to Brandon and let him go to work. He doesn't force it normally, especially considering he's a rookie.

"It's hard to say this, especially when he gets 29 points in a quarter. But he's not greedy. He's still playing Basketball out there; he's not searching for his own. He's trying to help us win the game."

Ellis paced the Warriors with 26 points, Maggette added 25 and Stephen Jackson had 21.

The Bucks were in a funk when Jennings went on another of his third-quarter runs, similar to his amazing performance against Detroit in the home opener. But this was even more sensational, as he scored 16 straight Bucks points to help transform a nine-point deficit into a 74-69 lead with 4:43 left in the third period.

And he wasn't done there. He scored nine more points to finish with 29 points in the quarter as the Bucks grabbed a 92-83 lead. Jennings pulled out his full array of shots, sinking threes and pull-ups and floaters.

Jennings' total set a record for a Golden State opponent in one quarter, topping the mark of 26 points set by Denver's Voshon Lenard in 2003.

Rookie Jodie Meeks capped the Bucks' 43-point outburst in the quarter with a bank shot from well beyond halfcourt, and the fans were on their feet cheering.

But Golden State kept coming at the Bucks , sparked by Maggette. When Ellis sank a three-pointer from the corner, the Warriors had grabbed the lead at 108-107 with 4:24 left.

Bell and Jennings then hit huge three-pointers as the Bucks were able to get back on top and hold off the Warriors.

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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