Preview: Bucks at Magic
Before Monday, Brandon Jennings last appeared in an NBA game in May when he exited the court after the Washington Wizards were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
After nearly getting a triple-double in his return to the NBA, Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks continue their playoff push with a visit to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Jennings will play the second game of his 10-day contract and the Bucks will go for their third straight win after dropping six of their previous seven games. Milwaukee (36-31) enters Jennings' second game of his second stint with the team in seventh place and a half-game up on Miami in the Eastern Conference race where third through eighth is separated by four games.
Jennings helped the Bucks get a 121-103 victory at Memphis on Monday by nearly getting a triple-double. He finished with 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
"We wanted more," Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty joked to reporters. "He was very good. Obviously, the 12 assists were great. Overall, a really positive night for him. A lot of things that were really good."
Jennings was Milwaukee's first-round pick in 2009 and was traded to Detroit. After leaving Milwaukee, he also played for Orlando, New York, Washington and earlier this year was in China before signing with the Bucks' G League team.
"I felt like it was my first rookie game," Jennings said. "Just to put on that jersey was a blessing, and I was just grateful."
Jennings expected to play about 10 to 12 minutes but wound up playing for nearly 24 because of a few factors. Turnovers allowed the Grizzlies to make it close before Jennings had back-to-back to drives and Giannis Antetokounmpo was limited due to foul trouble.
Antetokounmpo was limited to 27:46 and scored 20 points while getting six turnovers but was thinking about seeing more Jennings, whose last game was May 15, 2017 in a Game 7.
"It's crazy," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "Brandon Jennings is an NBA player. Guy surprised me with what he did tonight. Hopefully, he can help us moving forward."
Orlando (20-48) shares the Eastern Conference's worst record with the Atlanta Hawks and enters on a five-game losing streak after a 108-72 loss at San Antonio in a game where it set a season low for points.
The Magic are on their fifth skid of at least five games and are returning home after averaging 90.4 points and shooting 41.2 percent on a five-game trip against Western Conference opponents.
Orlando matched a season-low by shooting 34.1 percent (also March 5 at Utah) and played with a makeshift lineup because of injuries to Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier.
Fournier missed his third straight game with a sprained left knee while Gordon sat for the third straight game while remaining in the concussion protocol.
Though the team does not know the exact cause of Gordon's second concussion this season, the belief is it occurred in a face-first collision with Los Angeles Lakers forward Julian Randle in the third quarter of last Wednesday's 108-107 loss.
Gordon, who is the team's leading scorer (18.3 points) is hopeful he can play Wednesday but his status is unclear until he goes through the protocol before Orlando faces Milwaukee.
"It's pretty frustrating, but it's something that I can control," Gordon told reporters. "You've got this little card test that finishes the protocol. So, I've got another chance at it tomorrow. But I always want to play. I always, always want to play. "
The Magic are 5-16 when Gordon sits and have used a variety of players at his forward spot including former first-round picks Mario Hezonja and rookie Jonathan Issac, who combined for 11 points Tuesday.
As for Fournier, he remains day-to-day but is unlikely to play Wednesday, meaning Jonathon Simmons will likely start for him at shooting guard. Simmons scored 49 points in the first two games of Fournier's absence but was held to 10 on 3-of-13 shooting Tuesday.
Milwaukee has won six of the last eight meetings with the Magic. Antetokounmpo scored 32 points in a 111-104 win in Orlando on Feb. 10 and he totaled 26 points in a 110-103 victory Jan. 10.