Jennings Shows Knicks How Aggressive Point Guard Play Looks

Published on: 8th February, 2010

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New York – Brandon Jennings, one of the NBA’s star rookies this season, was available to be drafted by the Knicks when their pick came up in the NBA draft last June. The exciting rookie, who earlier this season scored 55 points in a game, could have been the Knicks point guard this season and into the future except that Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh decided he wasn’t the answer to their point guard needs, opting instead for forward, Jordan Hill,  who spends most of his time on the bench watching the games. 

Jennings decided he would use that draft day slight as incentive the next time he came into Madison Square Garden to play with the team that eventually chose him with the 10th pick, the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Jennings made his first appearance tonight at the Garden and made sure the Knicks got his message very clearly. His performance stated it very loudly that the Knicks drafting braintrust had messed up, terribly.  Or words to that affect.

Jennings, after a slow first half, dominated the second half, scoring 19 of his 22 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 114-107 win over the Knicks. He enjoyed every minute of his romp against the team he could have been leading.

“It was personal tonight,” said Jennings. 

Jennings’ crusade to prove the Knicks wrong  led to one of the worst losses of the season for the home team. It also came at a time when D’Antoni is still experimenting with different starting lineups and combinations of players in an effort to get some energy and cohesion into his team on both ends of the court.

Jennings knows he could have helped this Knicks team.

“Yeah, they told me they needed a point guard before the draft,” said Jennings afterward. “Their  coach’s style fits my game well where you can run up and down and you have the freedom to do what you want at the offensive end so it was the place I thought I was going to go. It’s over and done with and now we’re moving on. That’s life. Everyone makes mistakes.”

Jennings chuckled at his little dig at the Knicks draft choice last June.

“The Knicks didn’t tell me whether they would draft me or not but I knew they needed a point guard,” he said. “I worked out for them and I DID HAVE A GOOD WORKOUT.”

Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points in place of starting center Andrew Bogut, who was forced to leave midway through the first quarter with a migraine.

Jennings shot only 8-of-23, but he had eight assists and excellently ran an offense that scored 60 points in the second half as Milwaukee won for the fourth time in five games. 

David Lee had a season-high 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for the eighth time in 11 games. Reserve Al Harrington scored 22 points. Nate Robinson, one of the featured parts of D’Antonio’s experimentation, finished with 13 points but shot only 3-of-12 in his first start since replacing the slumping Chris Duhon at point guard. The Knicks turned it over 10 times in the second half after they had only one turnover at the break.

“For whatever reason we just got, I don’t know if their pressure wore us down to where we just got I don’t want to say lazy, but we just weren’t very good at details,” D’Antoni said.

Jennings scored eight straight Milwaukee points, including a 3-pointer that tied it at 64 and a three-point play that gave the Bucks a 69-67 edge. The Knicks went ahead by four later in the period, but Jennings found Ilyasova for a dunk off a pick-and-roll to cap a 17-5 surge that made it 86-78 with 1:12 remaining. Milwaukee carried a 90-81 lead to the fourth.

D’Antoni was clearly uncomfortable talking about Jennings, saying things like, “I like him, he’s fine” and “Ilyasova’s the one that killed us.” His players agreed. 

“Ilyasova is the one that made a difference,” Lee said. “Jennings didn’t shoot a great percentage, Ilyasova did.”

Jennings summed up his first big adventure to the arena he could have called home.

“I thought it was pretty good,” he said. “It’s not personal anymore. I’m happy where I’m at.”

No one with the Knicks is probably thinking the same thing about their current plight, as they sink into non-playoff oblivion, yet again.  

Knicks Notes: Kurt Thomas, former Knick power forward, is now a backup power forward and center on the Bucks. Thomas, never known as a big fan of former Knick point guard, Stephon Marbury, was asked what he would do if he were an NBA General Manager looking for a point guard. When told Marbury might be available after he finishes his season in a Chinese professional league, Thomas took a look time to think about it then answered, “I would rather sign someone off the street who acts like he’s glad to be here.” Then, he let out a big, bellowing laugh. Memo to Stephon: Don’t invite Kurt Thomas to your next birthday party.

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