As long as Brandon Jennings has been struggling, the first excuse that’s been made for the struggles has been that he’s at least kept his turnovers down. Sure, he’s been shooting 30 percent every night, but look, he only had one turnover. And that’s all well and good. On the priority list for point guards, taking care of the ball is often right up at the top with getting good looks for teammates.
But the best point guards eventually start to cut loose. They can’t worry about keeping their turnovers down, they’re too busy making plays and winning games for all that. So how do I feel about Jennings seven turnover outing in a win against the Warriors on Friday?
Jennings was as aggressive as he’s been in the past two months in creating off the dribble, getting in the lane and taking a few more chances than he has recently. With Michael Redd out, the Bucks are going to need someone to start stepping up and getting to the rim for easy baskets or free throws and Jennings has now thrown his hat in there as a candidate to take those responsibilities, and it really couldn’t have come soon enough.
After two months worth of struggles with his shot and long bouts of passiveness, I’ll admit that I had begun to worry some about Jennings. It’s still way too early to truly be casting much judgment upon him, he has lots of developing to do and will likely be a much different player in a few years, but more and more his body of work was getting larger and more negative. It’s hard to feel good about the future of the Bucks if Jennings isn’t even showing flashes of special play, which he really hadn’t been. Friday was different though. Jennings attacked the rim, got to the free throw line and then sealed the deal with a deep three and a dance.
That’s the Brandon Jennings we want to see.
Jennings finished the game with 24 points, seven assists, four steals and seven turnovers. A high impact game, as evidenced by a 35.2 usage rate. Compare that to the low impact game he had against Portland on Wednesday in which he tallied a 24.3 in the usage department and you can see how much more he had to do with this game. The Bucks won’t have a lot of success when Jennings is content to dribble around or limit his game to long jump-shots. It’s crucial for him to be probing the other team’s defense and looking to attack on the pick and rolls he runs.
- The Bucks finished Friday night 31-39 at the free throw line, unheard of numbers for a squad that’s typically allergic to the stripe. Jennings led the way at 8-9 and after him it was a total group effort with everyone not named Jodie Meeks getting to the line at least twice. I suspect this has as much to do with the Warriors being mega-hackers as it does with the Bucks attempting to be more aggressive, so forgive me if I temper my enthusiasm for the rest of the team’s new found aggressiveness.
- Andrew Bogut rebounded from a poor three game stretch to start the trip with 15 points and 16 rebounds and a dunk on Cartier Martin that nearly sent me running out of the room like a fan at an And One Mixtape game. Yes, he’s probably six or seven inches taller than Martin, but seeing Bogut be aggressive and nasty on someone’s head is always a good feeling. Bogut chipped in five assists on the evening as well, always nice to see him looking for open guys. He spent a little more time in the high post in this one and found a couple guys moving around from that spot.
- Milwaukee got 42 points from the bench, led by Hakim Warrick’s 15 points. Warrick continued his stretch of strong play and continues to get people with his one post move. He backs in, throws a fake and then tries to either draw the foul or get underneath the player if they jump in an attempt to get an easy basket. It’s been more effective than not in Warrick’s recent run of seven double digit games in nine attempts.
- Defense wasn’t much of an option in this one. Bogut did a good job of protecting the paint with three blocks and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute eventually made life difficult for Monta Ellis after he waltzed through the Bucks defense early in the game, but generally the Warriors got open shots that they weren’t making. The aggressiveness of Ellis and Corey Maggette is breathtaking. When Maggette decides he’s going to the hoop, it seems like he’s either getting a basket or getting fouled and there is no in-between.
I shouldn’t have been so down on Milwaukee when previewing this game. The Bucks have continuously taken care of business against the weaker teams they’ve played all year, whether at home or on the road. The Warriors were simply over-matched in this one, especially once Anthony Morrow went down. It’s not often (and by not often I mean I’ve never seen it before) you’ll see an NBA team finish a game with four guys on the court, which is what happened to Golden State for the last four seconds of this game after Morrow’s injury and foul outs by Chris Hunter and Ellis.
The Bucks attacked the weaknesses of Golden State with an aggressiveness that has been missing recently. It’s funny how the tables can turn so quickly once Milwaukee plays a team that is short on the talent side. After looking so miserable for long stretches against the Lakers, Suns and Blazers, Milwaukee practically looked like a different team in San Francisco, but that’s how the NBA works. Each day is a new day and a new opportunity.