With rookie Brandon Jennings leading the way, the Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA. The high-scoring guard, though, looked like a bewildered first-year player his last time out.
Jennings tries to bounce back from his worst shooting performance and help the Bucks avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time Wednesday night when they visit the New Orleans Hornets.
After finishing with 48 losses last season, Milwaukee (8-4) is off to its best start since going 9-1 in 2001-02. With injuries to guard Michael Redd and center Andrew Bogut, Jennings has been instrumental to the strong start.
Jennings leads all rookies with 24.2 points and 5.7 assists per game but didn't play well Monday in a 112-98 loss at San Antonio that snapped the Bucks' three-game win streak.
He was held under 17 points for just the second time this season, finishing with 12 on 6 of 21 shooting from the floor. Jennings also turned the ball over five times after recording three turnovers in his previous two games combined.
"I was getting to the lane. But my shots just weren't falling," he said. "It was an off night."
Milwaukee, which lost for the second time in nine games, hopes Jennings can find his shooting touch against a New Orleans team that allowed Miami to hit 52.1 percent of its shots in Monday's 102-101 loss.
The Bucks also need Redd to shed the rust he displayed Monday, his first action in nine games because of a knee injury.
Redd played 11 minutes off the bench and never managed to get in rhythm, finishing with four points on 1 of 3 shooting from the field while missing 5 of 6 from the foul line.
Redd missed Milwaukee's two losses against the Hornets last season with a torn ACL.
New Orleans (6-9), which has won seven straight over Milwaukee, had a three-game winning streak end Monday.
"I'm proud of the guys for taking a game that we were running in mud, that we had to fight and battle to get it under control to the last possession," coach Jeff Bower said. "I'm unhappy with the result but we're really proud of the effort that they put forth."
New Orleans has played its last five games without Chris Paul, who remains sidelined indefinitely with a sprained left ankle. Rookie guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton, though, have stepped up their play.
Collison is averaging 14.0 points and 6.4 assists as Paul's replacement in the starting lineup, while Thornton had a career-best 24 points Monday. Thornton is averaging 18.0 points on 46.7 percent shooting (14 of 30) from 3-point range in his last six games.