MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brandon Jennings took it upon himself to help break the Milwaukee Bucks out of an early season shooting slump.
The second-year point guard scored 12 of his 19 points in Milwaukee’s 41-point first quarter, and the Bucks never looked back in beating the New York Knicks 107-80 on Tuesday night.
Coming into the game, the Bucks were averaging an NBA-worst 89.6 points and had the second-worst field goal percentage at 39.9 percent. Jennings was hitting just 39.1 percent of his shots.
“I felt like I had to be a little more aggressive tonight,” Jennings said. “Going against the Knicks, you are playing a team that gets out and runs and they kind of lack on the defensive end. You have to take advantage of that.”
Bucks coach Scott Skiles said Jennings’ first-quarter performance was important to a team that had been struggling. Drew Gooden added 11 points in the first 12 minutes.
“It is hard to find anything negative to say about anybody tonight,” Skiles said. “Brandon was very aggressive and got us off to a great start. Everyone who stepped on the floor played well for us tonight.”
Bucks center Andrew Bogut played against Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire for the first time since Stoudemire was involved in the play last season on which Bogut took a nasty fall resulting in a dislocated elbow and broken wrist. Bogut has said that Stoudemire, then with Phoenix, did nothing wrong on the play.
The game got a bit testy in the third quarter as Stoudemire and Bogut jostled for position as they ran down the floor. Stoudemire was hit with a technical foul and then waved away Skiles as he walked away from the play.
Stoudemire was booed virtually every time he touched the ball Tuesday night.
Bogut, who finished with 10 points, said he did not remember the incident in the third quarter with Stoudemire.
“I was just trying to beat the New York Knicks,” he said. “The rest is history. We’ve been struggling as a team and it was important for us to come out tonight and get a win.”
Skiles refused to call the incident with Stoudemire an “altercation.” He said he thought Stoudemire was talking to the Bucks bench and “was addressing him back.”
Stoudemire said he got hit by Bogut and thought it was intentional. Asked if Bogut was getting back at him for last season’s incident, Stoudemire said, “Possibly. I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
Stoudemire led the Knicks with 19 points and Wilson Chandler added 11.
The Knicks, who trailed by as many as 25 points in the first half, used an 8-0 run midway through the third quarter to trim the Bucks’ lead to 71-57 when Stoudemire hit a jumper.
Milwaukee responded by outscoring the Knicks 19-10 during the rest of the third quarter to grab a 90-67 lead when Luc Mbah a Moute scored on a layup at the buzzer. The run was highlighted by Bogut blocking Stoudemire’s shot on one end and then scoring on a thunderous dunk on the other with 1:22 remaining.
The Bucks took control of the game from the beginning, as they hit 13 of their first 15 shots and grabbed a 35-18 lead with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter when Jennings hit a 23-foot jumper, the last of four straight baskets for the second-year point guard.
Milwaukee hit 3-of-6 3-pointers in its highest-scoring quarter of the season. The Knicks only hit 7-of-23 shots for 30 percent.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said New York could never recover from Milwaukee’s early blitz.
“Jennings came out and hit a couple 3s and put us on our heels and we never could get it going after that,” he said.
Notes: Bucks forward Carlos Delfino missed the game with a neck strain and is listed as day-to-day. Knicks forward Ronny Turiaf sprained his left knee in the first half and did not return. … Knicks trainer Roger Hinds was hit with a technical foul with 9:58 remaining in the third quarter when he went on the floor to help an injured player, but a timeout was never called.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)