Basketball: Jennings breaks Kareem’s rookie record with 55-point output vs. Warriors
MILWAUKEE – Brandon Jennings was shut out in the first quarter. Then he went to work and wiped out a record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Jennings scored 55 points, breaking Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise rookie record, to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a come-from-behind 129-125 victory Saturday over the Golden State Warriors.
Jennings poured in 29 points in the third quarter, then 16 in the fourth to hold off the Warriors and become only the third Bucks player to score more than 50. The last to do it was Michael Redd, who set the franchise record with 57 points against Utah on Nov. 11, 2006.
“It was a very, very impressive performance for anyone, let alone a rookie in his seventh game,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. “We just gave the ball to Brandon and let him go to work.”
The No. 10 pick in the draft topped the 51 points scored by Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor, on Feb. 21, 1970. The NBA rookie record was set by Wilt Chamberlain with 58 points for Philadelphia against Detroit in a January 1960 game in Bethlehem, Pa.
It was also the most points scored by a rookie since Earl Monroe had 56 on Feb. 13, 1968, and the second-most by a player under the age of 21, only topped by the 56 points scored by LeBron James on March 20, 2005.
“I was scoreless after the first quarter and really struggling,” said Jennings, who hit 21 of 34 shots after hitting just one of his first seven shots. “I just started getting in the groove and felt really good in the third quarter.”
The 29 points by Jennings were the most ever scored in a quarter against the Warriors. During the period, Jennings hit four 3-pointers and an assortment of jumpers and driving layups as he took over the game. At several points after scoring, he waved his arms in the air to get the crowd to cheer louder.
In all, he hit 12 of 13 shots in the quarter, his only miss a 3-point attempt with 5.9 seconds remaining. Jennings said after he hit his second shot in the third quarter, he could tell he was “in a zone.”
“I was just trying to do whatever I could to help us win,” he said. “We were out of sync in the first half and really needed to step it up.”
Skiles said he told Jennings after the game, “Great game, get some rest tomorrow and (say) hello Jason Kidd on Monday.” The Bucks play the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
Bucks center Andrew Bogut said he was in position several times in the third quarter for offensive rebounds, but wasn’t needed.
“I was just waiting for it to come off the rim, but it just kept going straight through, which makes it easier for me,” he said. “But it could have padded the stats a little bit if he missed one or two of them.”
Warriors coach Don Nelson called Jennings’ effort “probably the best rookie performance I’ve ever witnessed in 30-some years coaching.”
“We tried to handle him every way possible,” Nelson said.
Warriors reserve Corey Maggette said Jennings had a “special game,” one he had not seen in a long time.
“That was a great performance,” Maggette said, shaking his head. “I don’t know if anyone has done that since Magic (Johnson). He was something pretty special tonight.”
The Bucks won their fourth straight game for the first time in more than two years. The Bucks (5-2) are off to their best start since 2005, the last season the team made the playoffs.
Bogut added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks.
Monta Ellis led the Warriors (3-6) with 26 points and Maggette added 25.
Jennings hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:15 to give the Bucks a 117-115 lead. Luke Ridnour then hit a driving layup with 1:40 remaining to increase the Bucks’ lead to 119-115. After an offensive foul on Maggette, Jennings hit another jumper.
Maggette made a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw to cut the lead to 121-118, but Jennings came back and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 34 seconds remaining and the Bucks held on to win.
The Warriors lost starting guard Kelenna Azubuike in the first quarter. Azubuike drove across the lane with 9:12 remaining in the quarter and slipped on the floor. He immediately grabbed his left leg and screamed in pain. After a five-minute delay, Azubuike left the court on a stretcher cart and went to the Warriors’ locker room.
NOTES: Redd, sidelined with strained left patella tendon for the last four games, will try to return next week as the Bucks play Dallas on Monday and New Jersey on Wednesday. Bucks forward Kurt Thomas played in the 900th game of his career.