How to revive a franchise and win fans: Bucks 129 – Warriors 125
If you don’t already know, the Bucks beat Golden State 129-125 and weird as it sounds, the win wasn’t the story. Granted the story wouldn’t be the story if it weren’t for the win, but even so, the win wasn’t the story. Things being what they are with this game, I’m bypassing my typical format in favor of a more freestyle feel.
I have never raced home to watch one quarter of a DVR’d basketball game that I attended. I have never known a player was about to do something terrific. I have never had over 50 Bucks related texts messages in a half hour. I have never been so at a loss for words when describing what someone on the Bucks did.
But then again, I have never seen a Buck like Brandon Jennings.
Brandon Jennings performed so well in the third quarter he damn near made it impossible to use hyperbole in describing his performance. Let me hit you with some key statistics.
First, from ESPN Stats and Information:
* Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings scored 55 points in Saturday’s win over Golden State, including 29 in the 3rd quarter. He capped the game off by scoring 12 points in the last four minutes.
Brandon JenningsBy Quarter
FG FT Points
1st Qtr 0-3 0-0 0
2nd Qtr 4-10 1-2 10
3rd Qtr 12-13 1-2 29
4th Qtr 5-8 4-4 16
Jump Shot 16-25 39
Layup 5-9 10
Free Throw 6-8 6
>>18 of 21 FG were unassisted
– 35 of his 49 points from the floor came from 15 feet or farther from the rim- His five assists led to 11 points, second-most in the game
– Drew five fouls, including three shooting fouls
Now from me:
- That 29 points? A new Bucks record for a quarter. The previous record stood for 39 years. It was held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s kind of a big deal around these parts.
- That 55 total? A new Bucks rookie record and good for second all time on the Bucks single game list (Michael Redd 57)
- Jennings is the youngest player to score 50 points in a game.
- He either scored or assisted on every basket in the third quarter except four. That’s 15 of 19.
- He finished the third quarter 12/13 with 29 points two assists and 0 turnovers. 13 shots and ZERO turnovers. Not a one.
- It’s Jennings seventh game.
I could find numbers for days to point out how impressive this performance was, but I’ll stop. I think you get the point. This was a transcendent effort. I may sound like a bit of a lunatic right now, but this sort of thing just doesn’t happen in Milwaukee. The Bucks have been the child forgotten at home on a family trip in the Milwaukee sports scene ever since 2003-04. On a monthly basis, I hear almost as many people tell me the Bucks are moving soon anyway so why should they care, as I hear people telling me they’re going to a Bucks game sometime during that month.
The most exciting part about this performance for Bucks fans was that this did not appear to be a fluke. I swear on anything I wrote this sentence in my notes after Jennings hit his first shot of the third quarter, “Jennings hits his first shot…he shook his head, he has the look.” I asked Brandon about the head shake after the game:
It kind of happened off the second shot. The second shot hit, right after that I was like, ‘it’s time to get going’. The Detroit game kind of ran through my head again and I just started to hit shots.
We’ve seen the look before. He had the look in the third quarter against the Pistons. He had the look in the fourth quarter against the Nuggets. The Bucks have lacked this sort of a presence on the court since the days of Kareem. Sure, Redd has been a volume scorer, but even when Redd was averaging nearly 30 points a game he lacked the ability to will his team to victories. Knowing that Jennings was thinking of the Detroit game while he began to scorch the Warriors makes me feel even better about it. That’s a clear sign that he’s operating in a different way than any guys the Bucks have had in a long time. The Brandon Jennings Zone has thus far resulted in two exhilarating wins.
David Thorpe described Jennings as having “infectious enthusiasm” and that hits it right on the head. While Jennings was hitting one shot after the next, his teammates sensed the moment and played even harder. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute flew around the court grabbing rebounds. Andrew Bogut stayed ever ready to catch alley-oops or post up. Jennings had the least greedy 55 points I’ve ever seen. Skiles noted Jennings ability to be cognizant of his teammates despite scoring at will:
It’s hard to say this when he gets 29 points in a quarter, but it’s not greedy. He hit three or four in a row and when they came off he directed it to Charlie Bell in the corner. He’s still playing basketball out there, not just searching for his own.
One of the most frequent comparisons at this point with Jennings, has been Allen Iverson. Iverson is a terrific player and if Jennings ever turns out to be as good as AI, then Milwaukee is in good hands, but they have some huge differences that were on display tonight. Jennings never stopped playing like a point guard. It’s going to sound insane to anyone who didn’t watch the game tonight, but there was rarely a moment when Jennings played outside of himself. It never turned into an isolation fest. Jennings and Bogut ran the high screen and roll to death and what gave Jennings the looks he had was the threat that he would find an open Bogut cutting to the hoop.
I broke out the notes once already, but I’m going back to them. I wrote this after the very first play of the game! “Terrible pick and roll defense on play one and probably will continue for the rest of the game too.” The Warriors sagged off Jennings and played a very soft switch. It’s almost like they didn’t realize Jennings was the Bucks best shooter or they thought it was all luck. I’m confident they know it’s not luck now.
And just as I’m confident in the Warriors (and everyone else) learning that, I’m fairly certain Milwaukee is about to start taking notice of the Bucks. The 4-0 at home Bucks. The 4-0 at home Bucks who have yet to fill up even half of the upper deck. Brandon Jennings has been a one man marketing machine, but he shouldn’t have to be. If you come to see Jennings (and he’s worth the price of admission) I assure you you will like more than just him when you leave. Bogut has been terrific after the first two games. Ersan Ilyasova runs around and does all the things people say they love about college basketball. Jodie Meeks is all hustle all the time or at least when he’s not shooting. The defense is back to where it was in the eighties when the Bucks had a rabid fan base.
There is a lot to love about this Bucks team. But really, who am I kidding? It all starts and ends with number 3.