Jennings, Bucks spoil Celtics' home opener
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Brandon Jennings tallied 21 points and 13 assists as the Milwaukee Bucks spoiled the Boston Celtics' home opener with an authoritative 99-88 victory at TD Garden.
Tobias Harris added 18 points and Monta Ellis scored 14 to help the Bucks halt a five-game losing streak in season lid-lifters as well as end a string of six consecutive defeats to the slow-starting Celtics, who also struggled in a 120-107 setback at defending NBA champion Miami on Tuesday.
Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and Beno Udrih each contributed 10 points off the bench for Milwaukee, which shot 46.5 percent from the field and led by as many as 22 points in an impressive all-around effort.
"We were aggressive on both ends, we were competitive, we were quick to loose balls and overall played very well," said Bucks head coach Scott Skiles. "I was just really happy with the energy we came out with tonight."
Kevin Garnett paced six Celtics in double figures with 15 points, while Rajon Rondo recorded 14 points and 11 assists in Boston's first loss in a home opener since the 2006-07 season.
"These are growing pains. This is what the NBA season, this is what the journey is all about," said Boston guard Jason Terry. "We have a lot of new people, a lot of guys trying to get adjusted, trying to feel comfortable and familiar with each other. It's gonna take a while, but to get outworked is definitely unacceptable."
The teams were tied at 18-18 heading into the late stages of a tightly contested first quarter, before the Bucks outscored Boston by a 24-6 count over a span of nearly 11 1/2 minutes to assume control.
Milwaukee began the flurry with nine straight points, highlighted by back-to- back Sanders dunks off Udrih assists to close out the opening period. Udrih would later net the first seven points of a 15-4 run capped by Jennings' layup following a Boston turnover that enabled the Bucks to claim a commanding 42-24 advantage with 3:15 remaining in the half.
"Playing a team like Boston, you have to be aggressive," Jennings remarked. "If not, they'll just take over the game right away. So our whole role was to just come out aggressive. For me, I just wanted to attack Rondo more and make him work, because I knew he would do the same to me on the defensive end."
Jennings scored 15 points over the first two quarters as the Bucks built a 46-30 lead at intermission, and the margin swelled to 22 with 3:11 left in the third quarter after the point guard intercepted a Terry pass and fed Harris for an uncontested layup for a 70-48 score.
Milwaukee maintained a 22-point cushion entering the final three minutes of play, when the Celtics finally began to cut into their sizeable deficit. Terry accounted for seven points during a 12-1 Boston spurt and buried a 26-footer that brought Boston within 97-86 with a minute left.
The Celtics would get no closer, however, as both clubs traded free throws as time wound down.
The Bucks hadn't prevailed in a season opener since a 105-97 win at Detroit on Nov. 1, 2006, and last bested the Celtics via a 106-95 decision in Boston on Apr. 4, 2010 ... Rondo now has notched at least 10 assists in 26 consecutive games, a streak dating back to March 11 of last season ... Garnett played in his 1,257th career game, tying him with Otis Thorpe for 19th place on the NBA's all-time list ... Rookie forward Jon Henson, Milwaukee's first-round pick in the 2012 draft, and forward Luc Mbah a Moute were both inactive due to knee injuries ... Milwaukee outrebounded the Celtics by a 46-36 margin.