EDS: Bucks 106, Timberwolves 97; UPDATES with quotes.
AP Photo WIDH105, WIDH106
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Yi Jianlian finally had a game to smile about.
Yi, the sixth overall selection in the 2007 NBA draft, had his best game so far. He scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, hustled at both ends of the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds in his third start as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-97 Saturday night.
"After training, I feel much more comfortable than before," Yi said through an interpreter. "The training is rigorous and I've improved a lot because of it."
After scoring just three points in the first half, Yi scored 11 in the third quarter as Milwaukee (3-2) built a lead that twice reached 14 points, the last time on Yi's 17-foot jumper with 6:08 left.
After the game, a reporter asked him in English if he was enjoying playing in the NBA and he responded with a big smile, indicating his knowledge of the language is steadily improving.
"Of course, yeah," he said in English.
Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said the team worked with Yi this week on several facets of his game.
"It's a blessing when you have players you can tell something one time, and they actually do it," Krystkowiak said. "It's obvious that he's real cerebral."
"We have some pretty good shooters if we can get them open some looks," Krystkowiak said.
Brewer, taken one pick after Yi, made his second start for the Timberwolves. He shot 10-of-15 and had six assists in his best preseason outing.
"When you knock a couple down, your confidence does come," Brewer said.
Brewer, who had 11 points in the third, hit a 3-pointer late in the quarter which pulled the Timberwolves to 72-67 and gave him 18 points. He came into the game having scored just 18 points total in five games.
"It was good to see him come out of his shell a little bit tonight," Minnesota coach Randy Wittmann said. "He's continued to work at it."
Simmons returned to the starting lineup for Milwaukee after being held out of the two previous games. The 6-foot-6 forward missed the entire 2006-07 season with an injury to his right heel and underwent two surgeries on his right foot last winter. The Bucks are being cautious with his return.
Both coaches used their reserves to start the fourth, but when Craig Smith's free throw pulled the Timberwolves to 89-85 midway through the fourth, Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak reinserted Williams, Bogut and Redd. Moments later, Timberwolves coach Randy Wittmann put back in his starters.
The Bucks never let the Timberwolves get closer than 86-84 on Gerald Green's basket with 6:59 to play.
It was the 31st annual Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund game.