“He was aggressive, but he was looking for his teammates,” Jim Boylan said of Brandon Jennings after the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns in his debut as coach. Jennings ended up with 29 points and nine assists.
“He was just playing the game, which is great for him. Just go out there and play the game. It’s kind of a simple statement but, shoot when you’re open, pass when you’re covered. I thought that’s what he tried to do tonight. They were getting up into him, they were getting physical and he responded.”
It’s fun when Jennings “responds” like this. We all love the Jennings that busts out the monocle, the same way we love the Larry Sanders that blocks a shot and then stares in the distance looking for where they ball he just swatted ended up.
Sure, it was just the Phoenix Suns, but it’s always fun when the Bucks pour a little swagger on their win.
|Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF 25 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | 0
He’ll be getting more and more time at the small forward slot according to Boylan, due to the number of bigs on the roster, but his game doesn’t change much. He did hit a three, which is always fun to see. Depending on the lineups he’s out there with, he may have to be on the perimeter a bit more, but it won’t be drastic so long as he’s out there with a more perimeter oriented Ilyasova.
|Ersan Ilyasova, SF 26 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -3
Boylan moved Ilyasova into the starting lineup as an attempt to get the team’s early offense going and try and keep Ilyasova consistent. He’s improved over the past month and Tuesday night’s effort was a sound one. The numbers are still a bit low, but he’s been steady providing an outside threat that should compliment Jennings and Ellis well if he can keep it consistent.
|Larry Sanders, C 26 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -1
Fired up after some physical play from the Suns big men, Sanders had the crowd roaring after a pair of emphatic blocks, an alley-oop dunk and a tip slam that he touched off with an aggressive swing on the rim and gesture towards the Suns bench in the fourth quarter. He had all the energy the Bucks needed once again, as he so often has this season.
|Monta Ellis, PG 40 MIN | 5-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Ellis certainly wouldn’t have minded a foul call on two or three of his attempts, especially early in the third quarter. He was more aggressive than the 19 shots and two free throws would indicate. But he struggled with his jumper and had some bad luck with the officials. It happens.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 37 MIN | 9-15 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 29 PTS | +4
The Suns aren’t a very good defensive team. They’re especially bad at letting teams shoot the three well. Jennings torched them from deep all game. He was very in control and was much more assertive once he started having success rather than letting Ellis take over. But most importantly, he was making shots. That’s what makes Jennings a very good player, when he’s playing like a very good player – made shots.
|John Henson, PF 19 MIN | 4-7 FG | 4-7 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +14
Still in need of refinement offensively, but Henson continues to rebound at a fantastic rate. His offensive rebound with the Bucks up six with four minutes to go was one of pure length and hustle. He was tall enough to tip it over to Sanders and had the heart to attack. That’s the kind of play that’s gotten him into the rotation and allowed him to be successful.
|Ekpe Udoh, PF 22 MIN | 0-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +10
Udoh looks no better when he catches the ball today than when he caught the ball last year. I can assume he hasn’t made huge strides here since his rookie season. And if he has … yikes. But he needs to be quicker to go up when he catches near the hoop rather than pump fake. Be aggressive, even in your struggles, young man.
Hey! A win! A strong debut against a good team to turn back into a head coach again. The second half, a sore spot for the Bucks of late, was particularly strong, as Milwaukee outscored the Suns 58-43.
Three Things We Saw
- The most important thing we saw was a hint of the rotation Boylan wants to go with through the rest of the season. And the seven guys who weren’t Ellis and Jennings played between 19 and 25 minutes. There will still be grumbles about the playing time of Harris and Dalembert, but if he can keep those minutes consistent for that group, he should have a chance to pull some consistency out of an inconsistent group.
- Take a look at the Suns roster. Maybe only two or three of them could even log minutes for the Bucks. That’s a testament to how deep the Bucks roster is, but it’s also clear that Phoenix isn’t very talented. Milwaukee took care of business in the second half after staggering through the first quarter and beginning to come to life in the second.
- Offensively, the Bucks had the cohesion of the group that finished last season. Boylan said after the game his big emphasis was getting everyone involved in spots where they can contribute offensively.”We talked about trying to create more of an atmosphere of … team,” Boylan said. “I thought our guards did a good job of being aggressive, but at the same time, trying to be distributors too. It’s good to see that combination work.”Eight different Bucks players made at least four shots and the team had 25 assists. Mission accomplished, Tuesday.