NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Jennings will never understand why the New York Knicks didn’t draft him.
“No, and I’m not going to ask anymore,” he said. “It’s over and done with and we’re moving on. That’s life. Everybody makes mistakes.”
This mistake came back to haunt the Knicks on Friday night.
Jennings showed New York what it could have had, scoring 19 of his 22 points in the second half and leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 114-107 victory.
The rookie denied looking to make a statement against the Knicks, who needed a point guard last summer but bypassed Jennings in the draft, even though he felt he had a good workout for the team and would have fit well in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.
“Of course it’s always good to come here and get a win against New York. It’s not personal anymore,” Jennings said. “The main thing is I did want to win this game because right now we are close to getting back in the playoff race. It’s not personal because I’m over it now. I’m in a great situation.”
Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points in place of starting center Andrew Bogut, who was forced to leave midway through the first quarter with a migraine.
Jennings shot only 8 of 23, but he had eight assists and excellently ran an offense that scored 60 points in the second half as Milwaukee won for the fourth time in five games.
David Lee had a season-high 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for the eighth time in 11 games. Reserve Al Harrington scored 22 points.
Nate Robinson finished with 13 points but shot only 3 of 12 in his first start since replacing the slumping Chris Duhon at point guard. The Knicks turned it over 10 times in the second half after they had only one turnover at the break.
“For whatever reason we just got, I don’t know if their pressure wore us down to where we just got I don’t want to say lazy, but we just weren’t very good at details,” D’Antoni said.
The Knicks didn’t believe Jennings was their answer and instead took forward Jordan Hill — who rarely plays — at No. 8, two spots before Jennings was picked by the Bucks. Jennings previously acknowledged wanting to have a big game in his first trip to Madison Square Garden since draft night, telling the New York Times this week that, “This one’s going to be a little bit more personal.”
But he started poorly, missing eight of his first nine shots and perhaps confirming coach Scott Skiles’ pregame fears.
“Sometimes you come to the Garden here or Staples Center or someplace where you can perceive if you’re not careful that it’s a little more of a show than a basketball game,” Skiles said. “The performances are on Broadway, this is a competition. And so with young players in particular, sometimes these types of atmospheres in buildings, they’ve got to be careful.”
Jennings finally got untracked in the third quarter with eight straight Milwaukee points, including a 3-pointer that tied it at 64 and a three-point play that gave the Bucks a 69-67 edge. The Knicks went ahead by four later in the period, but Jennings found Ilyasova for a dunk off a pick-and-roll to cap a 17-5 surge that made it 86-78 with 1:12 remaining. Milwaukee carried a 90-81 lead to the fourth.
D’Antoni was clearly uncomfortable talking about Jennings, saying things like, “I like him, he’s fine” and “Ilyasova’s the one that killed us.” His players agreed.
“Ilyasova is the one that made a difference,” Lee said. “Jennings didn’t shoot a great percentage, Ilyasova did.”
Jennings hit another jumper to start the fourth, and the Knicks began hearing loud boos after Jerry Stackhouse’s 3-pointer pushed it to 97-84 with 9:06 remaining. New York got within six on Lee’s free throws with 1:34 to go, but Jennings answered with a bucket 33 seconds later to stop the Knicks’ run.
Bogut had matched a career best with 13 straight games in double figures and was easily on his way to another, scoring six points on 3-of-3 shooting in the first 5½ minutes before heading to the locker room. The Bucks stayed in it without him behind Ilyasova, who scored 18 points in 14 first-half minutes.
New York led 59-54 at the break.
“We thought we had a nice rhythm going early in the game when Andrew was in there,” Skiles said. “We were able to go inside. It kind of knocked us off balance when he went out of the game, but we were able to have it at five at halftime when we weren’t even playing that well. We came out, played much better in the second half.”
NOTES: The Knicks were wearing black “No. 15″ patches in honor of Dick McGuire, the Hall of Fame point guard and longtime team employee who died Wednesday at 84. McGuire’s banner that hangs from the Madison Square Garden rafters also will be blue, instead of the usual white, for the remainder of the season. … Robinson’s last start was last March 20 against Sacramento. … Milwaukee has won six of the last seven meetings.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.