Bucks win 3rd straight behind Jennings' 26 points
Jennings, who leads first-year players in scoring and assists, scored 24 of his 26 points after halftime, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Grizzlies 103-98 on Saturday night for their third straight victory.
"We're a second-half team," Jennings said after the Bucks overcame a 12-point, first-half deficit. "We're not going to throw in the towel and give up. Everyone came out and contributed in the second half."
Charlie Bell added a season-high 19 for Milwaukee, which has won seven of its last eight. Ersan Ilyasova finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and reserve Luke Ridnour contributed 13 points and a season-high 12 assists.
Rudy Gay had 24 points and 10 rebounds, but Memphis had its three-game winning streak snapped. Zach Randolph scored 18 points, O.J. Mayo had 15, and Marc Gasol finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
The Bucks improved to 8-3, their best start since going 9-1 in 2001-02, despite playing without starting center Andrew Bogut (left leg strain) and guard Michael Redd (left knee).
"We had a lot of guys contribute, which is what we need right now," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.
Jennings started showing his talents after halftime, scoring 12 in the third on 6 of 11 shooting. The Bucks also negated the Grizzlies' inside players by going small, outscoring Memphis 31-22 in the period.
"They have big scorers on the wings and down low," Ridnour said. "We were able to dig some balls out, make them miss, and the big thing is we got the rebounds. From that, we were able to run."
The Grizzlies used 12 points from Randolph and 11 more from Gay to carry a 50-45 lead into halftime. Bell led the Bucks with 11. Milwaukee trailed by 11 with just over 2 minutes left in the half, but the Bucks closed with an 8-2 rally.
"The guys did an excellent job of getting the lead to five right there at halftime, so we knew it was manageable," said Kurt Thomas, who had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Memphis shot well in the first quarter, reaching 71 percent at one point, helping the Grizzlies build the early lead to 12. Gasol, who is among the league leaders in field goal percentage, hit all four shots in the period, and Randolph only missed one of his five.
But the Grizzlies couldn't build the lead any further because of turnover problems, committing a half-dozen miscues in the quarter. They committed 16 on the night.
"We had low energy to start the game," Skiles said. "When the second rotation came into the game, we got back into our game."
Jennings managed only three shots in the first half, missing all of them and recorded only two points.
"I thought we did a good job for most of the night, just trying to stay in front of him, making him make tough shots," said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who had 11 points and five assists and was responsible for shadowing Jennings much of the night. "He made a lot of tough shots, and we have to live with that sometimes."
Carlos Delfino's 3-pointer from the right corner, his only field goal of the night, evened the score at 53. A three-point play by Ilyasova less than a minute later gave the Bucks their first lead of the game, and Milwaukee carried a 76-72 advantage into the final period.
Milwaukee scored eight straight points after the game was tied at 90 with 3:21 left to seize control.
"That last five or six minutes, it's winning time," Ridnour said. "Everyone stepped up and made big plays."
NOTES: Dan Gadzuric started at center for Bogut. ... Bucks F Hakim Warrick, who played his first four seasons in Memphis, received a warm ovation from the Grizzlies fans when he entered the game in the first quarter. ... Milwaukee was playing its first road game after going 5-1 on a homestand. ... The Bucks' bench outscored Memphis' reserves 35-16. The Grizzlies' bench has not outscored an opponent's. Gasol, who entered the game ranked fifth in the league in field goal percentage (60 percent), was 6 of 8 on the night. Over the last four games, he is shooting 84.4 percent (27 of 32).