Jennings big night lifts Bucks to road win over Sixers
PHILADELPHIA — Brandon Jennings bobbled the ball once, twice, then let it fly.
His shaky ballhandling was erased by the steady aim of his 3-point shot. Jennings hit the go-ahead 3 late in the fourth quarter and finished with 33 points, eight assists, and four steals to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 105-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
“It was actually a big shot for us because they had the momentum,” Jennings said. “It just gave us back the momentum.”
Monta Ellis scored 18 points and had seven assists, and Mike Dunleavy had 13 to help the Bucks improve to 3-0 on the road for the first time since they won their first four in 2001-02. Jennings and Ellis combined to make 20 of 41 shots with 10 rebounds and 15 assists. Mike Dunleavy scored 13 points and the Bucks shot around 60 percent most of the game.
After Jennings’ 3 put the Bucks up 92-89, Dunleavy buried a 3 with 2:44 left to stretch Milwaukee’s lead to 10. Led by Dorell Wright, the Sixers sizzled from 3-point range until the end, but they simply didn’t have long-range makes left in them to make this one a game.
They also couldn’t stop Jennings’ drives to the basket off the pick and roll. He also hit four 3-pointers and was 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
Jennings made a nice recovery on the winning 3 after nearly losing the ball and adding to Milwaukee’s total of 23 turnovers.
“He kept his poise there and put it in,” coach Scott Skiles said.
Jrue Holiday had 25 points and a whopping eight turnovers for the Sixers. Jason Richardson scored 20 points and Wright had 14. The Sixers made 10 of 24 3-pointers.
The Sixers were rolling coming off their first 3-0 road trip since 2003. But they received a dose of bad news earlier in the day when they learned center Andrew Bynum will miss at least five more weeks because of a bone bruise in his right knee and may not play in a game until early January. The Sixers said the new goal was for Bynum to resume “normal basketball activity” around Dec. 10. He would then need one to four weeks of conditioning and practice before he can play in his first game for the 76ers. He has yet to even practice with them this season.
Holiday was rewarded with a $41 million, four-year contract at the start of the season and might be feeling a dose of pressure trying to run the offense without his big man. He had his fourth straight game of at least seven turnovers, a big no-no if he wants to become an elite point guard.
“I think I’m trying to make something happen,” Holiday said. “Sometimes you just have to be patient. I’m learning, I’m watching film every day and trying to learn from my mistakes.”
For all the hype surrounding Bynum, he was far from the only big piece acquired in the offseason. Richardson, picked up in the same four-team deal that landed Bynum, Young and Wright all were expected to bolster a team fresh off a surprising run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, Richardson, Young and Wright got to work to rally Philadelphia in the third. The Sixers went on a 16-3 run to pull within three. Young and Richardson hit consecutive 3s to make it a two-point game and Holiday sank a pull-up jumper to close the quarter and tie the game at 83.
Richardson missed the last four games with a sprained left ankle. No rust here. Richardson scored 10 points in the first, including a highlight-reel worth 360 dunk off a fastbreak to send the crowd into a frenzy. His scoring boost wasn’t enough early.
“I think we hadn’t focused like we had the past three games,” Richardson said. “I think we kind of felt like it was going to be an easy win, like they were going to lie down.”
Nope. Keyed by six straight points from Jennings, the Bucks snapped a tie game with a 14-0 run in the second quarter. The Bucks were only shooting 45 percent from the floor over the first five games, but blew that number away in the first half, shooting 64 percent (23 of 36) to lead 62-50 at the break.
Jennings’ 19 points by halftime were well above his season average of 13.8 a game.
“In the first half, he was just spreading the ball around nicely and getting the guys involved,” Skiles said. “When it came time for him to score some points, he did that as well.”
Jennings leads the NBA with 3.4 steals a game. He’s had seven straight multiple-steal games. … The Sixers play seven of their next eight games at home. … The Sixers scored only 13 points in the fourth quarter. … The Bucks went 16 of 18 from the FT line while the Sixers were 12 of 16. … The Bucks outscored the Sixers 42-24 in the paint. … Larry Sanders had nine rebounds to give the Bucks a 48-31 edge on the boards.