Larry Sanders made no secret about being nervous heading into his first career NBA game. But that feeling is nothing new for the Milwaukee Bucks rookie forward.
"I’m always nervous," Sanders said. "Before every game I’ve probably ever played in my life, I was nervous."
Sanders seemed to handle it well on Tuesday night in a preseason win over the division rival Chicago Bulls, finishing with seven points, two rebounds and one block.
But five years ago when Sanders first began playing basketball in high school, his nerves got the better of him.
"The first game I ever played in junior varsity, I was nervous; so nervous," Sanders said. "I came out with 21 points or something like that, but I scored in the wrong basket. I didn’t know they switched at the half."
The long and athletic 21-year-old came off the bench against the Bulls and played over 14 minutes while connecting on 3-of-5 from the field, including a short running hook shot and two mid-range jump shots.
"I think that Larry Sanders did a great job tonight, but he was so nervous," Brandon Jennings said.
Despite first-game jitters, Jennings believes that Sanders has the talent to reach the level of 13-time NBA All-Star and 2004 Most Valuable Player, Kevin Garnett.
"He’s got a chance to do some big things," Jennings said. "He reminds me of a young KG when KG first came in the league. I told him just watch tape of KG and try to model your game after a guy like that.
"It is big shoes to fill, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to model your game after him."
Gallon does not play: While Sanders got to experience his first game as a professional, Tiny Gallon and Darington Hobson had to watch from the sideline.
This was expected for Hobson, who will be out for several months after requiring hip surgery.
For Gallon, it was less expected.
After the game, the Bucks’ 290-pound second-round pick was noticeably down about the "Did Not Play -- Coach’s Decision" that was next to his name in the box score.
As his mother watched from the crowd, Gallon was only able to cheer his teammates on from the sideline.
With Gallon’s contract being non-guaranteed and Milwaukee already having 15 guaranteed contracts, the odds were likely against the No. 47 overall pick to make the regular season roster.
Not seeing any minutes in the first preseason game, while fellow power forward and 34-year-old veteran Brian Skinner played five minutes, certainly didn’t help Gallon to feel any more reassured about his spot.
Gallon said that while he will continue to work hard in practice, he wouldn’t be surprised if he was traded before the start of the regular season.
24 turnovers: Coach Scott Skiles knows that turnovers in a preseason game are often the result of a team that is still getting to know one another on the court. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy about the Bucks committing 24 turnovers.
"We’ll be pretty close to 0-82 if we have 25 turnovers every game," Skiles said. "We don’t want that to happen, and it won’t. Some of that is spacing issues and new guys, and some of it was just casual ball-handling that we’ve got to get away from.
"The real key is you’ve got to move on to the next game, but you have to learn and move on. You can’t just move on. It’ll be a good learning experience for all of us."
Jennings had five turnovers despite playing just 18 minutes.
"There were several (turnovers) that weren’t typical of the way he can take care of the ball," Skiles said of Jennings. "I didn’t intend to play him a lot of minutes anyway, but I certainly had good reason not to tonight."
Korver meets Squad Six: Bulls free agent acquisition Kyle Korver didn’t let Squad Six get into his head at the free throw line. It may have helped that Korver wasn’t even familiar with the group of high-energy fans.
Chants of "Justin Bieber" were directed at Korver, but the 29-year-old sharpshooter was unfazed as he led all scorers with 22 points and hit all seven of his free-throw attempts.
When asked after the game what he thought about the Bieber chants, Korver didn’t seem to know about Squad Six or hear what they were saying.
Former Buck Kurt Thomas, sitting next to Korver at his locker, started laughing and said he would fill Korver in before the Bulls come back to the Bradley Center in late February.
Noah says Bucks are better ‘on paper:’ With LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach, many Bucks players have openly discussed that the Central Division will now likely be a battle at the top between Milwaukee and Chicago.
Bulls’ center Joakim Noah, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension earlier this week, seems to agree.
"When it hits the fan, I think we’ll be ready to compete against everybody," Noah said. "And we understand that Milwaukee is one of the toughest teams in the East.
"They’re definitely improved. It’s early to say, but on paper, definitely."