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Bucks rookie guard Jennings lighting it up early
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings has averaged 20.5 points and 6.0 assists, shot better than 50 percent and carried the Bucks to a 16-point comeback win over Detroit last Saturday.


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Published: 11/3/2009 12:04 AM

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Bulls game day

Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center, 7 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings was the best rookie of the NBA's opening week, averaging 20.5 points and 6.0 assists in two games. He also shot better than 50 percent from the field and led Milwaukee (1-1) from 16 points down to beat Detroit on Saturday. SG Michael Redd injured his knee against the Pistons and will be sidelined two weeks. The Bucks have lost seven straight at the United Center.

Next: Thursday vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m.

Another point guard is making a play to win NBA rookie the year.

Well, maybe two games is a little soon to make a judgment, but Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings is definitely the early leader. He's averaged 20.5 points and 6.0 assists, shot better than 50 percent and carried the Bucks to a 16-point comeback win over Detroit last Saturday.

"That would be great if he could win it, especially because he's in our conference," said Bulls guard Derrick Rose, the reigning rookie of the year. "It would be more great if J.J. (James Johnson) or Taj (Gibson) could get it."

This could be an interesting matchup tonight when Milwaukee visits the United Center. Jennings, listed at 6-feet-1, is in the mold of Indiana's T.J. Ford - a lightning quick, smaller guard. Rose is taller, stronger and an explosive athlete.

"In AAU, we played against each other like three times when he played for SoCal, him and Kevin Love and all them," Rose said. "They beat us all three times, but they were real competitive games. He's a good player, there's no doubt."

Jennings grew up in Southern California, attended Oak Hill Academy and signed to play at Arizona. When he didn't get the test score he needed to be eligible as a freshman, Jennings took an unprecedented route and spent last season in Italy playing for Lottomatica Roma.

"I don't see how he did it," Rose said. "I'd miss my family too much. It was hard going away to college at Memphis, about eight hours drive. He's going all the way overseas."

Actually, Jennings' mother and brother followed him to Rome. He seems to have his head on straight. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jennings eschewed an expensive sports car or giant SUV and returned from the car dealer with a Ford Edge. He's also said he likes playing in a small market such as Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Rose did plenty of extra shooting Monday at the Berto Center to get himself back into game shape. After sitting out three weeks in the preseason with an ankle injury, Rose is averaging 10.3 points, 4.7 assists and shooting 37 percent from the field.

"My ankle's doing fine. It doesn't really hurt," he reported. "Yesterday I was frustrated during the (loss at Miami). But today I was in here all day, last one to leave, as you can see, just trying to get my rhythm back."

Moving on: Sunday's loss to the Heat was one of those games where the Bulls played well enough to win, but couldn't finish things off down the stretch. Miami finished the game on a 13-4 run over the final three minutes and won 95-87.

"We definitely need to play with more urgency on the road," center Joakim Noah said Monday. "Everybody has to be on the same page. It's different when you don't have the home crowd pushing you. The whole game, we need to be a little bit more on edge."

Bull horns: As expected, the Bulls and Tyrus Thomas did not come to terms on a contract extension. Not even close, actually. So Thomas will become a restricted free agent next summer. - Milwaukee shooting guard Michael Redd will be out two weeks with a left patella tendon strain. - The Bucks chose forward Joe Alexander with the No. 8 pick in last year's draft and will now set him free. The team declined to pick up his third-year contract option, so Alexander will be an unrestricted free agent in 2010. The West Virginia product has missed training camp and the regular season with a hamstring injury.