In a matchup of undersized, shoot-first point guards, Milwaukees Brandon Jennings proved to Nate Robinson that having to shoulder an entire teams offensive burden on a nightly basis is a little bit different than igniting a squad for a quarter at a time.
Jennings went off for 35 points, including five three-pointers, Wednesday night in the Bucks 106-94 win over the Bulls at the United Center, 20 of which he scored in the third quarter. Robinson countered with 19, a respectable total, but 13 of those points were in the opening period, during which everything was seemingly going the Bulls way and Jennings was scoreless.
After a second quarter that saw the Bulls maintain a comfortable winning margin over the visitors, everything changed. Following the intermission, Jennings looked like a man possessed, hitting four triples in the period and even staring down the Bulls bench, doing his imitation of Robinsons post-basket airplane celebration to add further insult.
A little trash talking before the second half. I guess he felt like he had it going, he was getting the best of me, so I dont really take trash talking too kindly because I dont do a lot of trash talking. But I warned him, so hey, it happens, the fourth-year pro explained afterwards. I got ticked off at halftime and right from the jump, I just started attacking and thats just something I have to do more often, just keep attacking and having a short memory.
Bucks interim head coach Jim Boylan added: "I think the whole team played well, but obviously Brandon offensively really got it going.
I dont know what set him off. Two guys that like to talk a lot, you put them in a room together, somethings going to happen, he continued. Nate had it going for a while in the first half. Brandon, sometimes that gets his motor going a little bit. He went back at him and theyll face each other again, do it again some other time.
While Jennings didnt singlehandedly beat the Bulls Milwaukees 15 blocked shots had a lot to do with the loss its rare that a Tom Thibodeau-coached team allows one player to put on a virtuoso performance of that magnitude. Still, the Bulls head coach refused to specifically blame Robinson.
You let a guy get into rhythm and youre playing off his body, youre not stopping anyone like that, Thibodeau said. Its a competitive game. Some guys do it and theyre fine. To me, if you do it and thats the way you are and youre not distracted Id prefer to just concentrate on doing your job. There were a lot of things that we could have done better. You win together and you lose together, so we have to make the necessary corrections and get ready for New York.
For his part, the emotional Robinson accepted some responsibility for his role in the defeat, as the Bulls again surrendered a double-digit lead this time, it was 15 points and in the first half, as opposed to 27 points late in the game, which is what happened in November to Milwaukee at the United Center.
Tonight, we beat ourselves. Brandon Jennings had a hot period. It happens, he acknowledged in a solemn Bulls locker room. Its just part of the game. Nobody wants to get scored on, but its a team game. You cant get caught up in playing one-on-one, so for us, weve just got to continue to play hard.
It happens all the time, Robinson continued, when asked about Jennings mocking him, before addressing the trash talk that clearly occurred on the floor. A couple little dirty plays exchanged, but nothing to complain about. Its basketball.