Milwaukee Bucks Bounce Back to Record First Win vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Michael DulkaContributor IDecember 28, 2011

ATLANTA - APRIL 28:  Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Milwaukee Bucks registered their first victory of the season as they held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 98-95.

It was the Bucks' home opener at the Bradley Center, as they returned home after losing on the road to the Charlotte Bobcats last night. 

It was a slow start for the Bucks as the Timberwolves led much of the opening quarter, but only managed to expand their lead to four points. With the game tied late in the first quarter, Brandon Jennings collected a rebound off of a Derrick Williams miss and hustled down the court.

Jennings passed up a last second contested jumper and found Beno Udrih wide open for the buzzer-beater to give the Bucks a 32-30 lead.

It was a lengthy first quarter as the Timberwolves visited the free throw line an astounding 20 times, to the Bucks' five. Kevin Love led the charge with an attempted 15 free throws on his way to 17 points in the quarter.

The remainder of the game followed the same pattern as the Timberwolves went to the line 45 times and the Bucks 20.

Love dominated at times to finish with a game-high 31 points and 20 rebounds. He struggled to get help as the Timberwolves found little scoring outside of Love, Michael Beasley and Luke Ridnour. 

After playing just one minute against the Bobcats, former Wisconsin Badger Jon Leuer got a chance to play as Andrew Bogut picked up two fouls in the first quarter. He made his impact known as it was his return home to the state he spent four successful years.

Leuer was extremely efficient and earned extended playing time staying on the floor for just over 20 minutes. He shot 5-7 from the floor. He hit all four of his free throws to finish the game with 14 points and eight rebounds.  

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  Jon Leuer #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after being called for a foul against the Butler Bulldogs during the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 24, 2011 in New O
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Milwaukee used a strong second quarter to break the game open. They slowly had built a lead as high as 14 points, and cruised into halftime up 60-48.

They continued their strong play to open up the third quarter. They improved their lead to 20 as they went up 75-55 with 6:50 remaining.

During the run, the Bucks got contributions from five starters; Jennings, Bogut, Stephen Jackson, Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Dunleavy. Each player scored during the 15-7 run, and Dunleavy added two assists.   

After opening a 20-point lead, the Bucks left the door open for a Timberwolves comeback as the Bucks suffered from a four-minute scoring drought. It enabled the Timberwolves to stay alive. They closed the quarter down 79-68 with a Luke Ridnour three-pointer to cap a 13-4 run.

The Timberwolves ate away at the lead the entire fourth quarter, but failed to close the gap entirely as the closest they got was 94-92 with 1:41 remaining in the game. 

Throughout the game, the Timberwolves hurt themselves as they turned the ball over 25 times. It was a way too familiar sight for Timberwolves' fans because the team led the league in turnovers last season.

The turnovers were a complete team effort since no player finished with more than five, and every player that got on the floor had at least one.

Jennings led the charge as the Bucks tried to hold off the Timberwolves, scoring nine of his team-high 24 points. He hit seven clutch free throws down the stretch and found Jon Leuer late in the game for a three-point play to give the Bucks a 97-92 lead with 1:17 left in the game.  

MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 07: The Bucks mascot entertains fans by dunking a basketball during a time out during the game between the Milwaukee Bucks against the Miami Heat at the Bradley Center on January 7, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User
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Jennings was much better against the Timberwolves than he was in the season opener against the Bobcats. After a poor shooting game last night, Jennings rebounded shooting 7-14 from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line, while dishing out seven assists and collecting three rebounds.

The Bucks secured their first victory as Kevin Love missed a three-pointer. The hero of the night, Jon Leuer, got his hands on the rebound as time expired.

The victory was much needed as the Bucks failed to beat the lowly Bobcats the previous night in an extremely winnable game. Off until Friday, the Bucks don't take the court again until Friday night. The break will provide the team with an opportunity to get some much need practice due to the shortened preseason. 

On Friday, the 0-1 Washington Wizards will come into Milwaukee having lost their opener to the New Jersey Nets 90-84. They play in Atlanta as they take on the Hawks Wednesday night before traveling to Milwaukee.