GREEN BAY, Wisconsin — Jabari Parker started his first preseason game with a case of the jitters. The rookie steadied himself with a few dunks.
The new era for the Milwaukee Bucks is off to a promising start.
Parker scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, and Milwaukee beat the Memphis Grizzlies 86-83 on Wednesday night in coach Jason Kidd's preseason debut with the Bucks.
"As the game progressed, I got a little more comfortable out there," the 19-year-old Parker said. "I got the jitters. I think my second shot was like an air ball, but it's going to take time."
That's the plan in Milwaukee, which is rebuilding under new ownership. The Bucks are coming off a franchise-worst 67 losses. Parker, the second overall pick in this year's NBA draft, is one of the cornerstones under Kidd.
They have something positive to build on after rallying from an early 15-point deficit.
"That was a boring game," a straight-faced Kidd said. "I think the people here that watched got to see the young Bucks play. In this league, no matter who suits up or who plays, you've got to learn how to win."
The poised Parker showed flashes of athleticism. Three dunks in the fourth quarter helped rile up the crowd.
Memphis sat most of its key players down the stretch. Early on, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph gave Parker trouble with his mid-range jumper.
Still, Randolph seemed impressed with the former Duke star.
"He's going to be good," said Randolph, who finished with nine points. "I like him. Young boy, I told him to keep working, he's good, he's got a good work ethic, and he's going to be an All-Star."
There were several lead changes in the fourth, with Memphis going with a mainly young and unproven lineup against what figures to be the top players in Kidd's rotation.
Parker played nearly the entire fourth quarter, seemingly gaining energy as the final minutes ticked down.
With 3:48 left, Parker drove the baseline on Earl Clark before faking a pass that froze Clark for a moment. Parker went back to his left for a dunk that tied it at 75.
"The first dunk, that got me involved," Parker said. "Not only as a momentum swing, but it helped the team, too."
Khris Middleton's 3 from the wing with about 21 seconds left gave the Bucks the lead for good at 84-83. Clark then missed a 3, and the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo hit two foul shots for a three-point lead.
Milwaukee center Larry Sanders, playing his first game since February after suffering an eye injury, finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
The Bucks are hoping a healthy Sanders will provide a shot-blocking presence in the middle to go with the 6-foot-8 Parker. Add in the 19-year-old Antetokounmpo, a 6-11 forward, and Milwaukee has the makings of a long and potentially dangerous front line.
In contrast to Milwaukee, the Grizzlies are building off back-to-back seasons of 50 wins or better. They lost to Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs last year.
"But we had a lot of good stuff to look at and get better and learn from," Joerger said. "I was really impressed with the group at the end taking their group on, taking a hit and not folding."
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