Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
It wasn't as easy as in their first meeting, but the Milwaukee Bucks still managed to top the Indiana Pacers behind Brandon Jennings' monster scoring performance.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers came into tonight's game under very different circumstances than in their first meeting. The Pacers have been on a roll since their shellacking in the BMO Harris Bradley Center back in November, while the Bucks have been lucky to eke out some wins against bad opponents. But after a sluggish start, the Bucks tightened up their defense and started to hit some shots, turning a 3-point halftime deficit into a 6-point lead entering the 4th quarter before holding on for a 5-point win.
Brandon Jennings snapped out of a shooting slump in a big way, scoring a season-high 34 points on 13-22 shooting. He also added 6 assists and 5 rebounds while committing only 3 turnovers in 44 minutes of action. Surprisingly, tonight's performance featured only two 3-point makes and a 6-9 showing at the free-throw line. Jennings' jumper was on target most of the night, hitting regularly from mid-range after freeing himself off the dribble. Those sort of shots aren't exactly reliable where Jennings is concerned, but when he's hitting them, monster scoring nights tend to follow.
Jennings got help via the return of Mike Dunleavy (17 points, 6 rebounds, 6-14 FG), who looked as though he hadn't lost a step in his first minutes on the court. Dunleavy was a crisp 3-5 from behind the arc and also blocked two shots. Monta Ellis scored 19 and had a handful of truly spectacular plays, but shot just 8-23 on the night.
The Pacers did their part in carrying Milwaukee to victory, committing 20 turnovers and shooting just 40% for the game (despite 52% shooting in the first half). More frequent misses in the second half helped the Bucks push the pace. Indiana kept it close by drawing a boatload of fouls and outscoring Milwaukee 27-18 at the stripe, but they couldn't overcome rough shooting from the starters, who combined for 57 points on 60 shots.
The Bucks play the second game of their 4-in-5 stretch tomorrow night when they visit Memphis. Tip is at 8:30 CST and the game will be televised on ESPN and FSWI.