Jennings scored 21 points, had a key block in the closing seconds and made the clinching free throws with 5.9 seconds left, leading the Bucks to a 92-90 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
“That’s just making plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter,” Jennings said. “That was something I asked for. I knew Coach (Scott Skiles) was going to challenge me. He kind of kept the ball in my hands in the fourth quarter, so I had to contribute for him.”
Skiles kept Jennings on the bench in the fourth quarter of the Bucks’ 83-75 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. After that game, Jennings commented that his role had diminished this year and the offense wasn’t running through him as much as his rookie season.
Jennings is only making 38 percent of his shots this year.
“If you ask for something in public, of course you know the coach is going to challenge you to see what you’ve got,” Jennings said. “I had to answer to it tonight. I knew that was coming. So, I had to go out there and contribute.”
“My shot felt terrible,” Hamilton said. “It felt terrible. The good thing is that I was able to get to where I wanted to get to on the floor, but every bread and butter shot that I pride myself on I missed.
“I expect it,” he said. “That was only my second game in almost two months. I didn’t expect it was going to be great. I just told myself, talk to your legs.”
Milwaukee won for only the third time in nine games despite having its top frontcourt players on the bench due to injury and illness.
“It was a good short-handed win,” Skiles said. “We hung in there defensively. We were able to get the stops, and played pretty hard defensively, especially at the end.”
The Pistons have lost seven of nine.
“We had several good defensive plays, and that certainly was one of them,” Skiles said. “It was a good hustle play.”
The Pistons inbounded, and Austin Daye(notes) missed a 3-point attempt with 9 seconds left that would have given Detroit the lead. Ben Gordon(notes) tried to save it from going out of bounds, but his swipe at the ball went to Jennings, who was fouled.
Milwaukee was not in the bonus and inbounded, and Jennings was fouled with 5.9 seconds left. He calmly made both free throws to give Milwaukee a 92-88 lead. Detroit’s Greg Monroe(notes) scored on a follow shot with 0.2 seconds left to close the scoring.
Hamilton had missed 10 consecutive games since playing Feb. 5 in a game that also was in Milwaukee, but had a meeting recently to clear the air with Kuester and entered the game late in the first quarter. He missed 13-of-17 shots, but had three assists, two steals and two rebounds.
“He had some great looks,” Kuester said. “Normally, he’ll knock those shots down so I was very pleased with his energy. His approach to the game was outstanding, so we’ll get him going.”
Hamilton scored his first point on a free throw with 56 seconds left in the first quarter, and his first basket on a layup after receiving a long pass from Charlie Villanueva(notes) with 7:28 left in the second quarter.
“It felt great just to be out there with my teammates where I’m supposed to be, running up and down the court, stuff like that,” Hamilton said.
“We had such great looks,” Kuester said. “Wide-open looks and we just couldn’t knock them down.
“That was the frustrating part because I’m looking at it saying ‘All right, we’re getting the type of shots, we had some great looks and just couldn’t knock them down,”’ he said.
The Bucks used their 20th different starting lineup in 59 games. Milwaukee played without four key frontline players: center Andrew Bogut(notes), out at least a week with a strained muscle near his ribcage; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute(notes) (flulike symptoms), Ersan Ilyasova(notes) (concussion) and Drew Gooden(notes) (plantar fasciitis).
Detroit used its advantage down low to outscore Milwaukee, 52-28, in the paint.
Jennings scored 12 points and the Bucks led, 51-50, at halftime.
Notes: Hamilton entered the game with 1:42 left in the first quarter as the Pistons’ sixth man. … Tracy McGrady(notes) was dressed, but did not play. … Detroit G Will Bynum picked up four fouls in eight first-half minutes.