A serious mismatch on paper, it looked even more ridiculous in real life: Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, all of 6-foot-1 and 169 pounds, standing up to Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis – a player 8 inches taller and nearly 130 pounds heavier.
Still, Jennings didn’t back down from an on-court confrontation with Davis in the fourth quarter. The rookie’s aggressive reaction to a hard foul midway through the period appeared to kick-start the Bucks, who came back and took down yet another Eastern Conference heavyweight with a 86-84 victory over the Celtics on Tuesday. "No doubt about it," Jennings said. "Once that happened, I said, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s on now."’
Andrew Bogut had 25 points and 17 rebounds for the Bucks, who were coming off Saturday’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers – although they didn’t have to face LeBron James.
The Bucks went on an 18-9 run after the confrontation between Jennings and Davis, which started with a hard foul by Davis on Jennings’ fast-break layup attempt and ended with the two players being separated on the court.
"He probably thought he got hit a little harder than he should have, and stood up for himself," Bogut said. "He’s a young kid that’s going to speak his mind, and we need that."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he wished Davis had just walked away, but Rivers had bigger concerns – namely his team’s inability to stop Bogut.
"He killed us," Rivers said. "I thought he set the table for them all night. They kept getting the ball to him. I thought he was the difference."
Carlos Delfino started for Milwaukee despite experiencing flulike symptoms earlier in the day, scoring 19 points.
Rajon Rondo had 20 points for Boston.
Recently signed free agent Michael Finley made his Celtics debut, hitting a long jumper and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. He scored five points in 7:53 on the court.
Boston had its four-game winning streak snapped, two nights after coming from behind to beat Washington at home.
"It was an extremely slow-paced game and you could see that from the beginning," Rivers said. "I thought all of the little 50-50 plays was going to be the difference in the game – loose balls, offensive rebounds – and I thought they won that battle."
Milwaukee took an 86-79 lead on Jennings’ floating jumper in the lane with 2:42 left. Rondo converted a three-point play, then Kevin Garnett hit a jumper to cut the lead to two with 53 seconds left. Paul Pierce missed a potential game-tying shot just before the final horn.
"I loved the shot," Pierce said. "I thought I got to my spot. Sometimes they fall and sometimes they don’t. That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. We gave away some possessions there in the fourth quarter, we gave them a couple of layups and we let them get an eight-point lead late and then we had to grind. So we have to do a better job, especially in fourth quarters, of knuckling down."
Garnett had 14 points and 10 rebounds. He was coming off one of the worst shooting nights of his career against Washington, going 0 for 7 from the floor. But he got off a quick start Tuesday, hitting 4-of-8 shots for eight points with nine rebounds as the Celtics took a 46-42 lead in the first half.
Boston then went into the fourth quarter with a 68-64 lead, but Milwaukee had closed within two when Bogut blocked Pierce’s layup attempt, leading to a fast break for the Bucks. Jennings went up for a layup but took a hard foul from Davis, who hit the floor.
Jennings stood over Davis and appeared to scream something at him – although Jennings insisted afterward he didn’t say much.
"I just stood over him, let him know, ‘I’m all right,"’ Jennings said.
Then Davis got up, the two players made contact and had to be separated. A double-technical was called, along with a personal foul on Davis, and Jennings hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to one with 8:03 left.
"I don’t think the foul was hard enough for a reaction," Rivers said. "Honestly, I don’t think Jennings did enough for ‘Baby’ (Davis) to react. So it’s just two young guys acting up, but no big deal."
The Bucks, meanwhile, didn’t want to make too big of a deal out of what could be seen as a signature victory. But Bogut acknowledged that the win did help the team’s confidence.
"We still have a lot of season to go," Bogut said. "We’re starting to do the right things and we’re beating teams now that no one thinks we can beat."
NOTES: With its 34th win, Milwaukee matched its victory total from last season. … The Celtics fell to 21-2 when holding their opponents to 89 points or less. … Bucks F Jerry Stackhouse sat out because of a left hamstring strain.