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Brandon’s Coming Out Party
The fans who had witnessed his epic 55-point performance had long since departed and the clean-up crew was out in full force. The baskets had been lowered to just a couple feet off the ground and as Jennings approached the basket on the north end of the court, he hesitated at the three-point line and gestured as if he was going to put up a shot at the lowered basket. But he decided not to and kept on walking off the court.
He had already done enough damage for one night.
Jennings set a Bucks rookie record in the 129-125 victory over the Golden State Warriors, surpassing the former rookie record of 51 set by Kareen Abdul-Jabbar in 1970. Jennings made 21 of 34 shots including seven from three-point range.
He made 12 straight shots and scored 29 points in the third quarter and actually scored the 55 in three quarters since he was scoreless in the first. He scored 10 points in the second quarter and 16 in the fourth.
“I would have to say that was about as special a performance as I’ve ever seen by a rookie and you might be able to go beyond that,” said Bucks general manager John Hammond after the dust had settled from Brandon’s spectacular effort.
“This is only my second year here in this organization but I would say it’s been awhile since we’ve seen a performance like that in this building.”
What impresses Hammond the most about Jennings?
“He believes,” said Hammond. “He believes he can do it. And we’ve always said that about him. Scott (Skiles) said that from the very beginning also that he believes he’s good.”
Said Jennings. “The main thing is just keep working hard. Stay humble. Just keep working every day. Don’t stop working. This is just one game. We’ve got another one Monday (against Dallas).”
Asked at what point he knew he had it going, Jennings said, “I think the one when I came down on the break and stopped and popped in Monta (Ellis’) face… and I’m not trying to go at him or anything like that but I made the shot and after that it seemed like I couldn’t miss.”
Jennings is obviously playing with a lot of confidence right now.
“My confidence level is like when I was at Oak Hill my senior year when I was putting up all the big numbers,” he said. “Not as far as scoring but just playing and being comfortable out there.”
Some of the pertinent facts and figures:
Jennings fell two points shy of the Michael Redd’s franchise record that was set in November, 2006.
It was the most points by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe scored 56 in 1968.
It was the second-most points scored by a player under 21 years of age. LeBron James scored 56 on March 20, 2005.
Jennings joined Redd and Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in franchise history to score 50 or more points.
Bucks veteran forward Kurt Thomas is in his 15th season in the league but hasn’t seen too many scoring outbursts like that one.
“He was very impressive,” said Thomas. “He’s really under control. He’s been playing great. Ever since the beginning of the regular season, he’s been playing amazing but tonight was a stellar performance. I don’t think I’ve seen a double-nickel since Allan Houston in my day.
“He’s under control. He’s very poised. He doesn’t get down even if misses a shot or turns the ball over. He just continues to focus on the next play and he goes out there and does the job.”
Said forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, “The rookie is stepping up. I’ve never see anything like it. I didn’t play with some of the greatest players back in the day but that has to be one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen.”
“What did he make, 10 or 12 field goals in a row? That’s crazy. The way he did it too, just hitting shots after shots. He stepped up big. If it wasn’t for him it would have been a long night for us.”
The Bucks needed a shot in the arm after shooting 35.3% and trailing by 11 at halftime and Jennings provided it.
“Obviously, he felt we needed to be picked up and he did,” said coach Scott Skiles.
“We just went to our pick and roll game and spread the floor and he got hot. Again. A very, very impressive performance by anyone, let alone a rookie.
“(Golden State) is very difficult to get a handle on.
When we went in at halftime and looked at clips, it was more our doing than their’s. I don’t want to sell their players short. We just didn’t come out with the necessary defensive intensity.”
“We didn’t get anything easy. We didn’t get any stops. We had trouble handling the ball. And so we just simplified it and gave the ball to Brandon and let him go to work.”