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Recap: Denver Nuggets let one slip to Milwaukee Bucks

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets got the scoring going early with a 3-point make off an assist by Nikola Jokic. After trading misses, Jokic got another triple to fall before Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Bryn Forbes converted one of his own. After missing the team’s loss to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, Jamal Murray got an early shot to go before a 3-point make by Brook Lopez brought them within two.

A miss by Michael Porter Jr. saw Giannis Antetokounmpo go to the rim with ease on the other end. Off a miss by Khris Middleton, Will Barton pulled up from 3-point range to take a five-point lead and force a timeout from the Bucks. Following a turnover by both sides, Giannis is fouled and sent to the line where he makes 1-of-2. Off that miss, Porter converted a triple which gave every starter at least one point less than five minutes into the game. Not to be outdone, Donte DiVincenzo nailed a pair on back-to-back possessions.

Porter got a shot to go under the rim, and Middleton got a floater to fall to bring the Bucks within one. Off a miss by Murray, Giannis got a mid-range jumper to fall, and they led 19-18 with 6:07 on the clock and a timeout by the Nuggets was coming. Denver failed to score out of the break, and Giannis got right to the basket for an easy layup through Millsap. Jokic got a shot to fall on the other end from just past the free-throw line.

Off a bad miss by Giannis, Millsap bullied DiVincenzo right to the rim before Lopez hit a difficult shot from the elbow. Off a turnover by D.J. Augustin, Barton went coast-to-coast for a layup that gave them a lead for a brief second before Donte buried a deep 3-point shot. Murray found Barton in the corner for another triple which gave him 10 points early on. Jokic missed a mid-range jumper which led to a make by Pat Connaughton before the two sides traded makes and ended up tied at 32 with 2:00 remaining.

Murray found JaMychal Green in the corner for a 3-point make after his defender had fallen down. Off a miss by Augustin, Jokic found Murray for a slick back cut and nifty layup. Middleton got a nice shot to go, but Monte Morris almost immediately put away a 3-point bucket. Middleton knocked down a pair of free throws before Murray went to work on Torrey Craig for a tough, contested jumper. Middleton missed a shot to end the period, and the Nuggets were leading 42-37.

Out of the break, Middleton converted a shot through the foul which turned into a 3-point play. Off a miss by Green, Craig got a 3-point shot to go. Morris knocked down a pair of free throws, but Forbes made a triple that Barton immediately wiped out. The two sides traded misses before Augustin buried a long-range bomb. A turnover by Barton was followed up by misses from both teams before Augustin got a tough layup to fall which resulted in a Denver timeout.

Out of the timeout, the two sides traded bad misses back and forth before Giannis walked right to the rim for an easy dunk. Denver finally got their first shot in nearly four minutes to fall when Barton got a floater to go in the paint. Off a miss by Giannis, Barton went to the bucket where he was fouled, and he converted the 3-point play which tied the game at 52. Denver forced a miss by Milwaukee, and Jokic got a shot to go at the rim. Denver failed to score off a Milwaukee turnover, and the Bucks called a timeout with just over 5:00 on the clock.

Out of the timeout, the Bucks missed a pair of 3-point attempts before Murray airballed one of his own. Milwaukee turned it over, and Denver got a triple to go which put them on a 10-0 run. Middleton stopped the run with a shot before the two sides traded makes. A bad Murray turnover gave Middleton an easy dunk with just over 2:00 remaining to bring the Bucks within one.

Murray nearly turned it over again before having his shot blocked out of bounds and missing an open shot. Porter got a block on Donte which ended up being the best defensive possession you’ll see out of the Nuggets all season. Denver went down and got a 3-point play out of Jokic before forcing a travel on Giannis. Jokic missed an open look from 3-point land, and Millsap was able to force a jump ball on Antetokounmpo under the basket with 18.8 remaining. Connaughton was fouled with 1.9 remaining, and he went 1-of-2 at the line which had the game tied 62-59 at halftime.

Coming out of the break, Millsap forced a miss out of Giannis before Jokic rewarded him with a contested layup that he got to fall off the glass through a foul that turned into a 3-point play. Forbes converted a 3-point shot over Jokic before Millsap missed a 3-pointer of his own. Off a Middleton miss, Porter knocked down a triple from the corner before Middleton jumped into a foul by Barton outside the arc. He got all three shots to go from the line. Murray had a great look at the basket that didn’t fall, and Forbes made them pay with a long-range two.

Barton threw the ball away, and, after stopping Giannis in transition, they handed it right back. They traded turnovers before Giannis threw down an easy dunk when he hadn’t gotten back on defense. Following a Denver timeout, they nearly turned it over before they missed three misses layups in one possession. Lopez got a wide-open 3-point shot to fall, and Denver was struggling with a Middleton layup making it a 12-0 run. A miss by Jokic saw Milwaukee go in transition before they traded misses in the paint. Forbes got a 3-point shot to fall, and they led by nine before Jokic got a layup to fall through a Lopez foul which turned into a 3-point play.

Middleton knocked down a pair of free throws, and the Nuggets nearly turned the ball over again. Jokic got a layup under the basket, and they finally got a stop which lead to a Barton bucket. Middleton settled for a jumper that came up short, and Murray found Jokic for a triple that brought them within one before the Bucks called a timeout. Giannis got a shot to fall out of the break before Jokic was mugged under the basket where no foul was called. Giannis went coast-to-coast for an easy layup before Morris converted a 3-point shot from the wing.

Jokic got a layup to go that tied the game at 83 before he was forced to foul Giannis with a head of steam coming towards the basket. Giannis went 1-of-2 at the line, and Murray put up a bad shot over Craig before Bobby Portis threw down a big dunk. On the other end, Jokic found R.J. Hampton in the corner for a 3-pointer that tied the game, but Giannis was fouled again heading to the basket. Giannis converted both before Denver came up with an empty possession.

After that Denver miss, Antetokounmpo made a contested triple over Jokic before Morris got to the rim for a layup. Giannis got two more free throws to go, and Jokic had a shot roll all around the rim before coming out. Lopez was called for a carry, but Jokic missed another mid-range jumper with :30 to go. Hampton skied for a rebound off a miss, but Morris saw his shot blocked as the clock was expiring to send the Nuggets into the fourth quarter down 88-93.

Green got a shot to go to start the quarter, but Craig immediately knocked down a 3-point shot. Barton lost the handle, and Portis got an easy shot to fall over the top of Murray. Morris got a shot to fall, but Middleton immediately drew a foul that sent him to the line where he got both shots to fall. Another Denver miss saw the Bucks get the ball back, and Middleton got a tough mid-range shot to fall. Barton had a layup miss, and Millsap was fouled on the putback attempt. He went 1-of-2 at the line, and the two sides traded makes out of a timeout.

After an ill-advised shot from Porter, Portis drained a triple that Jokic immediately answered. A make by the Bucks was answered when Jokic found Millsap under the bucket for an easy layup that forced a Milwaukee timeout with 7:01 remaining. Middleton knocked down a shot out of the break, and Jokic immediately drew a foul on Lopez. Barton promptly threw it away which Millsap chased down to save a free layup before the Bucks scored on the inbounds pass.

Jokic got a fallaway shot to go before he forced a miss on Giannis. Following a Milwaukee foul, Jokic got another shot to fall, but Giannis banked in a long 3-point shot to negate it. With the shot clock expiring, Jokic drew a shooting foul on DiVincenzo and made both shots at the line. The Bucks turned it over with 4:23 left on the clock, and Lopez proceeded to get called for his fifth foul when he ran through a screen set by Murray. Murray got both shots to fall, but he missed an open 3-pointer following a Milwaukee turnover.

Out of a timeout, Denver forced a miss, but they failed to secure the rebound before committing a foul. Fortunately, Forbes was called for a moving screen which gave Denver the ball with 3:34 remaining down by eight. Jokic was blocked at the rim, and Middleton made them pay with a mid-range jumper that gave them a 10-point lead with 3:03 remaining.

Barton missed a tough shot before converting a layup following a miss by Portis. Murray forced a miss out of Giannis, but Millsap immediately had it stolen away. With 1:39 remaining, Giannis converted an alley-oop to give him 30 on the night which made it a 10-point game. Out of a Denver timeout, Craig fouled Jokic while he was setting a screen which sent Jokic to the line where he converted both attempts. Murray got a steal which led to an open 3-point shot for Morris that he left short. Lopez got a floater to fall, and the game was all but wrapped up.

Murray missed a contested shot from the corner, and the Bucks were salting it away with makes from Lopez before the game ultimately ends 125-112. The Nuggets have now lost three straight, and they’re still struggling to get a consistent game to go their way with an awful third quarter derailing their hopes in this one.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic - 35

Assists: Jokic - 6

Rebounds: Jokic - 12

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic 35 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 13-of-26 field goals, 3-of-6 3-pointers, 6-of-6 free throws