MILWAUKEE - Brandon Jennings finished with just 13 points, but his final three were all that mattered Saturday against Cleveland.
Jennings connected for a three-pointer from the top of the arc as time expired as the Bucks improved to 2-0 on the season with a 105-102 victory over the Cavaliers at the Bradley Center.
Hoping to prevent a repeat of Jennings' season-opening effort at Boston, where he scored 21 points in 29 minutes of work Friday, Cleveland double-teamed Jennings though much of the first half and put 6-foot-6 forward Alonzo Gee on him in the second.
That kept Jennings off the scoreboard for the most part - he shot just 5-for-13 from the field - but Jennings still dished out 13 assists and managed to be in just the right spot to take the inbounds pass from Mike Dunleavy for the game-winning shot.
"Once I got the ball, if you are just one second late you're kind of beat on it," Jennings said. "I just got it as high as I could. Once I left my hands and I saw it was straight, I knew it was in."
With many of the Bucks' starters struggling, Milwaukee's bench players stepped up. Dunleavy led the way with a 29-point, 12-rebound, six-assist effort and went 6-for-7 from beyond the three-point arc. Larry Sanders added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Beno Udrih scored 11 off the bench, with nine of those points coming in the second quarter.
In all, the reserves scored 62 of the Bucks' 105 points and outscored their Cleveland bench counterparts by a 47-point margin. Bench players accounted for all but six of the Bucks' 32 second-quarter points as Milwaukee recovered from an early deficit
"We needed it," Milwaukee head coach Scott Skiles said. "We came out flat-footed and Cleveland had a ton of energy. They got up into us and kind of put us back on our heels and we were able to find some energy in our second unit."
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, while Anderson Varejao hit 10 of his first 11 shots to finish with 20 points while adding 17 rebounds.
A night after both teams played in blowouts -- a Bucks victory at Boston and a Cavs loss at Chicago -- they played down to the wire on Saturday.
Out of the gate, the Cavs hit seven of their first nine shots to take an 18-10 lead before Milwaukee called time out with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
The Bucks came out firing in the second quarter, opening with a 16-0 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 12 point lead. Cleveland wouldn't get its first points of the quarter until Irving hit one of two free-throws at the 7:17 mark. Udoh hit a pair of free throws at 5:55 to extend the lead to 12, but Cleveland rallied back with a 17-3 run of its own, cutting the lead to 45-41 with 2:58 left in the half and went into the locker room down six, 55-49.
Cleveland pulled ahead in the third behind 12 points from Varejao. The Cavaliers shot 12-for-23 from the field and 3 of 6 from behind the arc to take a 79-76 lead heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, Cleveland took a five-point lead on Dion Waiters' 18-footer with 8:49 to play, but Milwaukee came right back on a Sanders dunk and a Dunleavy lay-up to make it 87-86 with 7:47 to play.
Ersan Ilyasova tied the game at 93-93 when he hit the second of two free throw attempts with 4:47 left on the clock, and on the ensuing Cleveland possession, Monta Ellis blocked Waiters' shot.
Ellis found Dunleavy, who hit the three to put Milwaukee up, 96-93. The Bucks would extend the lead to seven when both Ellis and Jennings connected on free-throw attempts before the Cavaliers made a late surge.
Jennings appeared to connect on a three-pointer from the corner that would have put Milwaukee back up by five, but the officials ruled that Jennings' shot came after the shot clock expired. The call stood after review, and Cleveland came back to tie the game with 0.7 seconds left on the clock on an Irving lay-up, setting the stage for Jennings' game-winner.
"That was a tough shot," Varejao said. "At least we gave ourselves a chance to win the game. We played harder than last night. We were right there to win the game. It's tough to swallow, but we have to think about the next game."
NOTES: Neither John Henson (left knee sprain and bone bruise) nor Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, still recovering from off-season knee surgery, was active for Milwaukee ... Cavaliers assistant coach Paul Pressey was Milwaukee's first-round draft pick in 1982 and spent eight seasons with the Bucks ... Dunleavy's double-double was his first since joining the Bucks before last season ... The Bucks open the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2005-06 season ... Varejao recorded his first double-double of the season ... The Cavilers are two games into a season-opening six-game road trip.