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Jennings scores 35 as Bucks hold off Bulls

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings got caught up in a personal battle with Chicago's Nate Robinson on Wednesday.

Jennings was a clear winner, though. He scored 35 points to lead the Bucks to a 104-96 victory over the Bulls at the United Center, keeping new Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan undefeated.

"To me, I just felt like I can do what I want, I've got my swagger now, and I can clown around, dance, do what I want," Jennings said. "I might end up changing my hair back again. I think overall, it's just the confidence the team has. Everybody's playing with confidence. Guys are just playing free. We're not really thinking anymore, we're just hooping."

Boylan improved to 2-0 since taking over for Scott Skiles on Monday. Boylan's first head coaching job in the NBA was in Chicago, where he also took over from Skiles at midseason in 2007-08.

Mike Dunleavy added 16 points for the Bucks, while Monta Ellis scored 14 and Ersan Ilyasova had 13. Center Larry Sanders grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked seven shots, and Milwaukee had 15 blocks as a team.

"It's Chicago. It's a division rival, a team that's up ahead of us, so it's a huge game for us," Boylan said. "It gives us a 2-1 series edge."

For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer recorded his sixth straight double-double, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Nate Robinson had 19 points, and Luol Deng added 18.

Milwaukee trailed by as many as 15 points in the first quarter but bounced back behind Jennings. The streak-shooting point guard had no points at the 7:30 mark of the second quarter, then dropped in 10 points before halftime and 20 more in the third quarter.

On a few occasions, Jennings seemed to mock Robinson's jet imitation, which he pulls out when hitting big shots. Robinson was hot early, scoring 13 points in the first quarter.

"Yeah, a little trash-talking before the second half," Jennings said. "I guess he felt like he had it going, was getting the best of me. I really don't take trash-talking too kindly because I don't do a lot of trash-talking. I warned him. It happens."

Down the hall, Robinson didn't think much of Jennings' antics and denied doing any excessive trash-talking.

"No, it happens all the time," Robinson said. "A couple little dirty plays exchanged, but nothing to complain about. It's basketball."

Trailing 81-80 heading into the fourth quarter, Chicago missed its first seven shots as the Bucks opened an 86-80 advantage. The Bulls never did even the score, but they closed within 92-91 with 4:22 left on a pull-up jumper by Robinson.

Dunleavy answered with a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to four points. After two free throws by Jimmy Butler, the Bulls missed two chances to tie the score. Then they lost track of Dunleavy, and he buried an open 3-pointer to give the Bucks a 98-93 lead with 2:51 remaining.

Boozer's putback cut the deficit to three before Ilyasova hit a jumper. With Chicago trailing by four points and just over a minute left, Bulls guard Marco Belinelli missed an open 3-pointer. Jennings essentially put the game away with a runner in the lane with 24.6 seconds to go.

"If you don't play with great intensity, particularly when you have people out, you're not going to give yourself a chance to win," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We wanted to make it a 'you shoot, I shoot' type of game. You're not going anywhere like that."

The Bucks earned their second win at the United Center this season. They rallied from a 27-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Bulls 93-92 on Nov. 26.

Wednesday's defeat snapped Chicago's three-game winning streak.

NOTES: Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich missed his fifth regular-season game with a fifth different injury. This time the cause was a laceration on his right elbow, which occurred during Monday's win over Cleveland. ... Before the game, Boylan reflected on his time running the Bulls. He went 24-32 and was not retained. "My approach is totally different than it was five years ago," he said. "I'm more comfortable in this position. After reflecting on it for a while, I felt like I was too concerned when I was coaching here in Chicago of trying to hang onto the job." ... Boylan said before the game he thinks Skiles will coach again. Skiles and the Bucks mutually agreed to part ways. ... Forty years ago Wednesday, the Bucks snapped the Los Angeles Lakers' record 33-game win streak.

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