BOSTONWith so many talented point guards in the East, it's not that hard to overlook Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings.
But performances like the one he delivered on Friday night against Boston Celtics just might change how the fifth-year guard is seen by others.
Jennings turned in a masterful 21-point, 13-assist night in leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 99-88 win over the C's.
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For most of the game, Jennings dominated play by simply being aggressive at both ends of the floor.
"Playing a team like Boston, you have to be aggressive of course," Jennings said. "If not, they'll just take over the game right away. So our whole role was to just come out aggressive."
Jennings didn't try and hide the fact that facing Rajon Rondo only served as added motivation for him to play so well.
And the only way Jennings felt he could hold his own against Rondo, was to try and put Rondo his heels defensively.
"I just wanted to attack Rondo more and make him work because I knew he would do the same to me on the defensive end," Jennings said.
His strong play in the opener bodes well not only for the Bucks, but also for his chances of landing the lucrative long-term contract he's seeking.
The Bucks declined to work out an extension for him, which means he will be a restricted free agent this summer. With a number of teams having significant salary cap space, Jennings could potentially play his way into a max or near-max contract.
He will earn 3.2 million this season.
"You never know how that's going to affect today's player," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "Some guys can play right through stuff like that. Some guys succumb to it. You never know how it's going to affect somebody."
While a more lucrative contract is certainly motivation, Jennings appears to be just as driven to enter that upper echelon of point guards.
Having a big game against Rondo, one of the game's best, is a start after acknowledging that Rondo had out-played him often in previous matchups.
"He Rondo didn't just have good games, he owned me," Jennings said. "But this is a different year and I have to be more aggressive. You know we missed the playoffs two years in a row so it started from tonight and I'm just trying to go out there and compete every night. Whether I shoot bad or not, just as long as they know I gave it my all."