The Milwaukee Bucks came out flat in the second game of a back-to-back set, but they eventually pulled ahead of the Chicago Bulls and emerged with a win, thanks in part to 20 third-quarter points from Brandon Jennings.
The Milwaukee Bucks started the Jim Boylan era with a home victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, and they followed that up with an impressive road win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The Bucks won their second consecutive game against the Bulls -- a rarity during Tom Thibodeau's tenure -- thanks to a huge second half by Brandon Jennings. No. 3 scored 20 of his 35 points in the third quarter and finished up with a beautiful line of 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting, six assists and six rebounds.
Mike Dunleavy chipped in with 16 points on 11 shots (4-of-5 from beyond the arc), while Larry Sanders controlled the paint in the second half and added seven more blocks to his season total. For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer recorded his sixth-straight double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Nate Robinson front-loaded 19 points.
A slow start. The Bucks came out flat, fell behind 24-9 (the largest Bulls lead of the night) and never led at any point during the first 24 minutes of the game--a start that was a bit too reminiscent of their last visit to Chicago, which you may recall required a furious 27-point rally to claw out a one-point win. The Bucks only scored six points in the paint during the first quarter, while the Bulls put up 16 in the paint thanks to a strong start from Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
Ersan Ilyasova's three was the Bucks first made jump shot of the night (missed first 8).— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) January 10, 2013
Bucks had 5 defensive rebounds in the 1st quarter, and the Bulls had 6 offensive rebounds -- a lot like the Pacer game. Bucks down, 33-23.— K L Chouinard (@AnaheimAmigos) January 10, 2013
Brandon Jennings did not score over the first 16 minutes of the contest, while Nate Robinson posted 13 points and four assists on 5-of-6 shooting. And for a while it absolutely looked like Brandon was destined to continue his maddening trend of disappearing in games without an interval of rest -- he entered the game shooting just 28.7 percent from the field (33-115 FGs) and 25.5 percent from three (12-47 3PTs) over eight games played without at least one day of rest. Thankfully, Jennings turned the tables in the second half (more on that in a bit).
Failures in the rebounding battle compelled Boylan to call on Samuel Dalembert late in the first half, but that experiment lasted only two minutes and Dalembert produced only a personal foul during his time on the floor.
At the half, the Bulls led 57-50 thanks to a 26-19 rebounding edge and 52.1-40.0 precent shooting edge, as Boozer had 14 points and seven rebounds by the break to lead Chicago. Meanwhile Ersan Ilyasova (11 points, 3-of-7 shooting) paced the Bucks, but the outside shooting for Milwaukee looked particularly bad:
Bucks are 7/26 (27%) on shots outside the paint in the first half.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) January 10, 2013
Swag mode. When Brandon Jennings is hitting his threes, he's quite a treat to watch. And in the second half against the Bulls, Brandon Jennings was hitting his threes. Milwaukee's young point guard started the game 3-of-9 from the field, but he morphed into a different player after the intermission: Young Buck hit four quick triples and broke 30 points for the night before the final period even started, completely shifting the momentum of the game after Chicago's early domination.
It's clear Jennings doesn't have much control over his swag mode, but somebody activated it (Jennings noted that Nate Robinson was talking trash in the first half during his post-game interview) and things changed in a blink for the Bucks. Brandon could be seen staring down the Bulls bench, gliding towards his own sideline in a celebratory mood and taking pull-up threes on fastbreaks when the Bucks had numbers:
Jennings just successfully J.R. Smith'ed that 3-on-1 break (pull-up three, y'all).— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) January 10, 2013
Jennings had 0 points at the 7:30 mark of 2ndQ. Now he's got 26 and Bucks lead 72-66, 4:20 left in 3rd— Mike McGraw (@McGrawDHBulls) January 10, 2013
The Bucks openly celebrated their accomplishments after a 22-11 run to start the second half, which launched Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin into a prolonged debate on whether the Bucks had practiced bad form (I say yes).
Closing time. The Bulls threatened to recapture the lead at multiple points in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks managed to respond each time. A rainbow 15-foot fadeaway by Jennings to push the lead back to 92-89. A beautiful three by Dunleavy to stretch the lead out to 95-91. ANOTHER sweet Dunleavy triple to make it 98-93. A 20-footer from Ersan to keep it at 100-95 with under two minutes to play. The Bucks did not get to the paint, but the jumpers dropped at big moments to keep them playing from the front.
Larry Sanders (six points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks, three fouls) did his job and helped to hold off Chicago on the other end, as he changed plenty of shots in the painted area, blocked a bunch more and avoided foul trouble for good measure. After Sanders' seventh block of the night, Jennings darted past Robinson (who let him get to his left hand), dropped in a floater and eventually donned the three-point monocle as the Bucks earned their 18th win of the season.
Jennings just iced the game with a Nash. That shot's been on ice for a while. Good to see it back.— K L Chouinard (@AnaheimAmigos) January 10, 2013
Bucks 2-0 in Chicago. #MILvCHI— Alex Boeder (@alexboeder) January 10, 2013
So to recap: two wins in two tries to start the Boylan era in Milwaukee, with a very winnable game at home against Detroit on tap for Friday. To celebrate, check out a nice video our bud (and number one Hungarian Bucks fan) Gábor Szabó put together this week: