MILWAUKEE — Out of habit, Brandon Jennings looked over at the Bucks’ bench and almost yelled “Scott.”
It’s hard to blame him because it’s been a long 24 hours for the Milwaukee Bucks. The day started with a meeting to discuss the departure of Scott Skiles and ended with a 108-99 victory that snapped their four-game losing streak and gave Jim Boylan a win in his debut as Milwaukee’s coach.
Jennings played one of his finest games of the season, scoring 29 points on 9 of 15 shooting while dishing out nine assists and hitting on five of his seven three-pointers.
“I was just on a mission to get a win, period, because of the fact we’ve lost four in a row,” Jennings said. “We didn’t want to lose another one.”
Just as Jennings hesitated to remember Boylan was now the head coach, the man himself had to do a double take when he realized no other coach was standing up in front of him.
But once he settled in, Boylan was energetic and into the game like the change was no big deal at all.
“It was great,” Boylan said. “Everybody kind of brought something to the table. Everybody contributed, so that was a real positive. That’s the message that I’m trying to get through to the guys. We can all do something to help the team.”
Phoenix scored 26 points in the paint in the first half, as Suns center Marcin Gortat has 14 points and six rebounds at halftime. But the Bucks buckled down inside in the second half and allowed just 10 points in the paint in the final two quarters and Gortat had just two points the rest of the way.
Down six at the break, Milwaukee could ill-afford to have another slow third quarter like it did against Houston and Indiana last Friday and Saturday.
This time the Bucks flipped the script and took it to the Suns right out of the locker room and outscored Phoenix by 10 in the quarter.
“Sometimes when you have changes like this, you get a little extra motivation,” Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova said. “This was (the) key from my standpoint …The coach will give you directions, but we did what we were supposed to do. We shared the ball. We played really great defensively in the second half.”
Bucks center Larry Sanders continued his impressive streak of block shots – he’s now posted four or more blocked shots in four straight games, tying a team record set by Elmore Smith in 1975.
On his last block of the night – his sixth – Sanders put his hand on top of his forehead like he was looking for the ball.
“I didn’t see where the ball went,” Sanders said. “I was searching for it.”
While theatrics like that may rub some the wrong way, Sanders was just having fun. After the last four games and the long day the Bucks went through, it was a welcome sight. But Milwaukee has already moved on. Before Jennings had finished answering his first question in the locker room, his mind flipped to Chicago Wednesday night.
The Bucks are just 2-6 in back-to-backs and Jennings is averaging just 11.6 points per game and shooting 28.7 percent from the field in the second games.
“What coach tried to do was rest me a little bit (more tonight), so I came out a little earlier because we’ve been struggling (in back-to-backs),” Jennings said. “Plus, I haven’t been great in back-to-backs like I usually have. Hopefully we can go in there and get a win. It’s a tough team, a great defensive team.”