Spurs stifle Jennings, control boards to beat Bucks
SAN ANTONIO -- Lost in all the fuss over the way Brandon Jennings has kickstarted the Bucks to their best start to a season in eight years is something that doesn't appear to do much with Jennings.
The Bucks are the top rebounding team in the league and entered Monday's contest against the Spurs with a 6-0 record when grabbing more rebounds than their opponents.
Tim Duncan had 24 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
As for Jennings, the Spurs would play no part in funding his Rookie of the Year campaign. He was 6-for-21 and had 12 points, and just as importantly San Antonio outrebounded Milwaukee by 17 boards on the way to a 112-98 victory at AT&T Center.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, however, would beg to differ on Jennings' impact on the rebounding game.
"He gets away from people," Popovich said, "and it's hard to stay in front of him. When that happens (defensive) help is always coming. And, of course, that makes the defensive board a real tough situation because everybody is trying to help. So I thought, considering that, we did pretty well."
Tim Duncan played the biggest part in that. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds, including a third quarter where he scored 15 and grabbed five rebounds to bring the Spurs back from a one-point halftime deficit to a 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
San Antonio outscored Milwaukee 37-24 in the third quarter, which is the first time in six games that the Bucks have lost the third quarter. And it was just a point shy of the Spurs' biggest point production in a quarter this season.
By the end it was the Bucks' largest margin of defeat this season, which marks the second straight game the Spurs have handed that distinction to their opposition. San Antonio (6-6) defeated Washington by 22 points on Saturday.
The Bucks (8-4) tried their best to pull this one out despite Jennings, who sputtered through his second-worst night as a pro (he was limited to nine points Nov. 6 against Minnesota). Not counting Jennings' off shooting night, Milwaukee was 35-for-62, 56 percent.
"Just an off night," said Jennings, who did manage seven assists. "Those shots I took, I usually take all the time and I knock them down. But tonight I just didn't have my touch.
"I got my shots. Everything was open. I got to the lane. I was dishing. It was just one of those nights."
Milwaukee got a small consolation when Michael Redd returned after missing the last nine games with a left patella tendon strain. But the Bucks still were without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (missed his fourth game with a left foot sprain) and Andrew Bogut (missed his third game with a lower left leg strain and contusion).
"Tonight was the test to see where I was," said Redd, who played 11 minutes off the bench and hit a 3-pointer before finishing with four points. "I got hit a couple of times, which was good. It felt good to get hit tonight. I was pleased to just be out there playing."
Matt Bonner had the shooting touch for the Spurs that Redd often gives Milwaukee. Bonner came off the bench for 25 minutes and hit 7-of-10 shots -- including six 3-pointers -- for a season-high 23 points to complement Duncan.
"It's hard to guard a team where everyone is contributing, when everyone is scoring and everyone is dangerous," Bonner said. "We just have to keep rolling with that."
The Bucks showed how effective their rebounding can be when they made their biggest run to finish off the second half. The Bucks trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half, but they erased that lead when they got a few key offensive rebounds in the final four minutes before halftime.
San Antonio led by 11 when Richard Jefferson (the former Buck scored 11 against his old team) hit a pair of free throws with 3:44 remaining. But Milwaukee scored the final 12 points of the half -- two of them came on offensive rebounds by Dan Gadzuric.
The Bucks tried to come back in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 10 with 6:19 to go. But Bonner hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point try by Charlie Bell. And Keith Bogans hit a 3-pointer plus a free throw to make it 99-85 when he was fouled on the shot by Redd.
The Bucks would have a difficult time coming back from that backbreaker, even if Jennings was on his game.
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