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Milwaukee vs. Denver: Bucks Outlast the Nuggets

It was an old-fashioned Western shootout between these two teams in Denver on Sunday night.

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

The Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Denver Nuggets 121-114 in their impressive victory Sunday night at the Pepsi Center. The Bucks finished 2-2 during their toughest stretch of the season, which is a big success in my book. Here are three Bucks who showed out in the win.

Brook Lopez, the human flamethrower?

He hit 8-of-13 shots from beyond the arc and even hit 6-of-7 tries in the third quarter alone. Overall, he finished with 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting in 37 minutes of play and he made life miserable for the Denver Nuggets. Not only did he have a tremendous impact on the offensive end, but he also did a damn good job defensively on Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic. Lopez held Jokic in check which is no easy feat. Jokic finished with only 20 points and 6 rebounds while finishing a team-worst minus-17. Last time out against the Bucks, Nikola finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists. Brook Lopez was the difference maker last night.

All aboard the “Tough Shot Express”

Khris Middleton made a few big plays down the stretch in their victory over the Nuggets last night. His biggest bucket was a tough step-back fadeaway (going left) with 41.6 seconds remaining and Nikola Jokic draped ALL OVER him to put the Bucks up 117-112. The ball didn’t even hit the rim. For the game, Middleton finished with 21 points on a robust 8-of-12 shooting. He wasn’t featured heavily offensively throughout the game, but he made big plays when the Bucks needed them.


Eric Bledsoe is a scrapper.

His offensive game has regressed over the last two weeks, but he’s provided the Milwaukee Bucks with excellent defense and making a lot of hustle plays. He did a little bit of everything last night, finishing with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 block in 30 minutes. Bledsoe also committed only one turnover while finishing a team-high plus-14. He made the biggest impact defensively against the Nuggets and came up with a clutch steal with 28.8 seconds left in the game. He tried going up for a layup after the steal and missed it, but he hustled his rear off and got the offensive rebound to help ice the game. Even though his overall field goal percentage is “down” to 46.3 and he’s only shooting 32.1% from deep, it’s hard to complain about what we’ve seen from Eric Bledsoe thus far. I mean, look at the effort displayed here on the defensive end.

It wouldn’t be a recap if we didn’t mention Giannis.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was doing “Giannis” things last night, which also meant going 0-5 from the free throw line. Iffy free throw shooting aside, Giannis Antetokounmpo was unstoppable offensively. He finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and one block in 36 minutes. What’s scary is the fact that he’s not even in true “Giannis” form yet. Giannis had a few SportsCenter worthy highlights tonight, like this one.

A 6’11” player who can put the ball on the floor and do a quick in-and-out dribble while finishing with his left hand on a defender should be illegal. His ability to make a play out of nothing is elite. Not only did he make plays offensively, but he also had a few great defensive plays as well. This right here was a beautiful sequence.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Malcolm Brogdon continues to roll along. He finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 7-of-13 from the floor in 33 minutes. He hit all three of his shots from deep, and also had a handful of nice finishes around the basket. Good stuff from the Prez.
  • Although he only scored two points in 18 minutes, Pat Connaughton still made a sizable impact on both ends of the floor. Offensively, his ability to time back-door cuts is impeccable and his feel for the floor is spectacular. He made a beautiful assist on a kick-out pass to Malcolm Brogdon for three in the corner to beat the 2nd quarter buzzer. Defensively, he blocked three shots and has shown a tremendous display of timing when opposing players’ shots. The Bucks are better when he’s on the floor.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks shot 17-of-34 from deep (50%) and 57.1% from the field. The Bucks were really moving offensively and as a result, they got a multitude of good looks at the basket. Keeping up with the Denver Nuggets is not easy, especially in Denver.
  • This was the Milwaukee Bucks first win in the Pepsi Center since 2010. The leading scorer for the Bucks that game? Our good pal John Salmons with 26 points.