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News » 76ERS 99, BUCKS 86 Flirting with history Jennings almost gets triple-double in loss

76ERS 99, BUCKS 86 Flirting with history Jennings almost gets triple-double in loss

76ERS 99, BUCKS 86  Flirting with history  Jennings almost gets triple-double in loss By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Philadelphia - Point guard Brandon Jennings nearly tripled his fun on opening night, and he almost made National Basketball Association history in the process.

Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks rookie came up just short of a triple-double with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in his team's 99-86 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at the Wachovia Center.

Jennings' eye-opening performance nearly put him in the company of Oscar Robertson, the former Bucks great. Robertson was the only rookie in league history to record a triple-double in his opening game, an achievement he reached in October 1960 with the Cincinnati Royals.

"You've got to be blind not to see some of the gifts he has," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of the 20-year-old Jennings. "Defensively, he has a long way to go. But he works at it, and we'll keep working with him.

"He almost had a triple-double in his first pro game. He looks like a legitimate pro guard, there's no question about it."

Jennings got off to a solid start with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in leading the Bucks to a 47-41 halftime advantage.

But the Bucks missed their first seven shots in the third quarter and watched as the 76ers regained control with a 35-point period.

"We came out in the third quarter and got a point-blank layup for 'Bogues' (Andrew Bogut) and missed it, and we missed two or three good looks after that," Skiles said. "Our defense started to collapse a little bit. They built a lead. We tried to fight back but just didn't have enough."

Andre Iguodala led a balanced 76ers attack with 19 points, and he wasn't far from a triple-double himself with nine rebounds and seven assists. Power forward Elton Brand added 17 points, and guard Lou Williams had 16 points and four assists as Philadelphia (1-1) bounced back from a lopsided loss in Orlando on Wednesday.

"We really got into each other at halftime and believed in ourselves," Iguodala said. "We got some stops and gained energy on the defensive end."

Jennings said he wasn't aware of his flirtation with the triple-double mark and joining the Big O in an exclusive club.

"I'm disappointed because I've been ranting and raving about winning the first one and the first two, and I really wanted to get this one tonight," Jennings said. "I want to show Milwaukee and everybody that here we come, we're ready.

"But the home opener (Saturday), we've got to get up for that one and win it."

Redd scores 17

Michael Redd, playing in a regular-season game for the first time since tearing ligaments in his left knee in January, added 17 points and six rebounds for the Bucks .

Veteran guard Charlie Bell, who played 31 minutes in a reserve role, was impressed with Jennings' performance.

"He came out with a lot of confidence and really got us going offensively," Bell said. "I mean, he's the head of the team. You're out there at that point guard spot, and everybody is looking for you to do something.

"I'm proud of him. You can't get too down about losses and too up about wins."

Skiles went to Jennings and Luke Ridnour in a two-point guard lineup at the start of the fourth quarter with the Bucks trailing, 76-67.

And when the Bucks still were unable to dent the Philadelphia lead, Skiles brought in Bell, Dan Gadzuric and Roko Ukic with 8:44 left, inserting them with Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova.

That unit cut a 12-point Philadelphia lead to 88-83 on an Ukic shot in the lane, but the 76ers responded with a 10-0 run sparked by Jason Kapono's three-pointer.

"I felt like I was patient enough at that point," Skiles said. "It seemed clear the unit that was out there wasn't going to mount any sort of comeback. So I shuffled the deck to see if we could come up with something, and I was pleased with the way those guys at least tried to hang in for us."

Bogut, also in a regular-season game for the first time since late January, was upset with his performance. He finished with eight points and six rebounds while playing 31 minutes.

"I know I played terrible," the 7-foot center said. "There's no excuse for the way I played. I played badly offensively and defensively.

"You never want to have that, but it happens in the NBA. Nothing was going for me. I've got to be more aggressive (Saturday) night and keep shooting the ball."

The Bucks committed 20 turnovers, including five by Jennings. But teammates sometimes weren't ready for good passes from the rookie, and Gadzuric missed a point-blank dunk off a great feed by Jennings.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: November 1, 2009


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