Scoring has not come easy to Brandon Jennings since he signed with the Wizards as a free agent on March 1. Through 23 regular season games with Washington, he averaged just 3.5 points per game on 27.4 percent shooting.
Jennings is far removed from the guy who once dropped 55 points as a rookie for the Milwaukee Bucks. Nowadays he's a pass-first backup for the Wizards, asked mainly to push the pace while John Wall is taking a much-needed rest.
All of that makes what Jennings did in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's Wizards win over the Hawks in Game 2 of their first round playoff series so unlikely and surprising. For the first time since he signed with the Wizards, Jennings caught fire in the fourth quarter of a big game. This particular streak went a long way in helping the Wizards secure a playoff win.
Jennings hit three straight shots for the Wizards, then assisted on another to account for eight consecutive points to tie the game at 84-84 with 7:50 left and force the Hawks to take a timeout.
"Brandon Jennings, he came in and changed the game for us," forward Otto Porter said.
"We were down going into that stretch of the game. He came in, he gave us energy [and] he made some shots," coach Scott Brooks added.
It started at the 10:34 mark of the fourth quarter when Jennings hit a stepback jumper over Jose Calderon. He then followed with a two from 21 feet with 9:00 left, then another two with 8:27 remaining. Then, he drove the lane to find Jason Smith for a dunk and that's when Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer had seen enough.
Jennings was just glad to contribute.
“I've been working on it every day. I finally shot the ball, that's the thing. I was finally able to take some shots and shoot it with confidence, so that's definitely a confidence boost. When my number is called, I just have to be ready," he said.
Jennings was able to rebound within the game after some shoddy defense against Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder in the first half. And Jennings' contribution came at a good time, as the rest of the Wizards' bench scored just 15 combined points. Jennings had 10 himself to go along with four rebounds and two assists.
"Things weren't going our way tonight but we stuck together and we fought until the end," Jennings said.