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News » Rookie Jennings answers the bell He leads Bucks to win in his first NBA start

Rookie Jennings answers the bell He leads Bucks to win in his first NBA start

Rookie Jennings answers the bell  He leads Bucks to win in his first NBA start By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Brandon Jennings admitted he felt some jitters while making his first start for the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

And it didn't help matters when he had the ball stolen in the backcourt by Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn in the opening moments of the preseason game.

But Jennings quickly regained his composure, getting the Bucks into a nice flow offensively as they defeated the Timberwolves, 101-87, at the Bradley Center.

The 6-foot-1 rookie finished with a team-leading 16 points and seven assists as he dueled with Flynn, his former workout partner in the weeks leading up to the National Basketball Association draft in June.

"I was a little nervous in my first NBA start tonight," Jennings said. "After he took the ball from me, I was like, 'Come on now, it's time to play.'

"It was a little battle between me and him at first. He was scoring; I was scoring. But I think the second string came in and did real well defensively. They opened up the lead for us, and everybody just started rolling."

Bucks coach Scott Skiles said he thought Jennings responded fairly well to his initial start.

"He played well offensively," Skiles said. "He's got a ways to go on the other end of the floor.

"He's not accustomed to being into every defensive possession like we would like him to be. Having said that, he's not lazy. It's just a situation where to start a game, when we're trying to establish a defensive tone, we need to keep people from penetrating on us."

Center Andrew Bogut played his longest outing of the preseason, staying on the court for 25 minutes and grabbing 13 rebounds while scoring 10 points.

Skiles substituted four players - Dan Gadzuric, Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell and Hakim Warrick - with 4 minutes 35 seconds left in the first quarter and the Bucks trailing, 24-22. They joined forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and that unit sparked a 15-4 run to end the quarter and put the Bucks on their way to a fairly easy victory.

"Once we kind of turned our defensive energy around, it really opened up a lot for us," Skiles said. "Sometimes we ease our ways into games, and it hurts us. We were going that route tonight, but we quickly snapped out of it and got it back together."

Bogut said he spoke to Jennings before the game and urged him to take the challenge of facing Flynn, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, and former Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions.

"He was playing against another point guard in his draft class, and he had a lot to prove tonight," Bogut said of Jennings. "He (Flynn) was a guy we were tossing up when we had a pick.

"I think they were pretty even in the game, but we got the win, so I think Jennings gets credit for it. We invested a lot in Brandon. They have Flynn and Sessions, who we didn't re-sign because we have a lot of faith in the young fella. So I told him that before the game; 'You've got to come out with some fire and prove we made the right decision, that you're going to be the future for us.'"

Flynn, the former Syracuse star, finished with 19 points and five assists.

The Bucks had 29 assists on 38 baskets as they moved the ball crisply. Shooting guard Michael Redd scored 15 points while playing 24 minutes, and Warrick added 15 points off the bench.

"Guys have really moved the ball," Skiles said. "We don't have any selfishness out there. Those are all good signs, but this is the time of year where it's easy to get along.

"When you lose a couple games you should win and tensions are high, that's when that stuff is tested. But we seem to be forming a nice foundation with regards to our chemistry."

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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Added: October 19, 2009


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