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Rapid Recap: Bucks 123, Nuggets 134

The Bucks are now off for the next eight (8!) days, and will return on February 23.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In their final game before the NBA All Star break, the Milwaukee Bucks got downed by the Denver Nuggets, 134-123.

Milwaukee entered this game having won an impressive nine of their last eleven games, albeit against relatively unimpressive competition. Denver, winners of eight out of eleven in their own right, presented the Bucks with a real challenge, boasting a talented big man surrounded by a bevy of shooters. A win here would be true cause for celebration for Bucks fans, and while a loss wouldn’t be world-ending, it would dampen spirits somewhat as the NBA season approaches the final stretch.

The night started on a high note, with Giannis Antetokounmpo getting some acknowledgement from his home crowd for starting in this weekend’s NBA All Star Game.

Giannis was the usual focal point for the Bucks, ending up with his ninth triple-double (36 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks). New P&R best friend Tyler Zeller worked his way to a very solid 14 points and 5 rebounds. Eric Bledsoe put up 27 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals, Khris Middleton added 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals, and Jabari Parker continued his reintegration to the NBA game with 12 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.

As this random child’s face will attest to, this game was...rough. The Bucks left for the locker room at halftime having given up 74 points (including a scorching 13/19 from three), and Nikola Jokic ended up with 16 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 the first freakin’ half. The third quarter wasn’t much kinder for the Bucks, who tried to keep up on offense and scored 88 points, but gave up 107 (that’s one hundred and seven) as they couldn’t match Denver’s piping-hot shooting.

(This was at the beginning of the fourth quarter, for your reference.)

Jokic ended the game with 30 points, 17 assists(!), and 15 rebounds, and was consistently ridiculous from tip-off to final buzzer. Jamal Murray had 26 points (on 9/12 shooting), 5 assists, and 3 steals, Gary Harris put in 28 points (on 10/18 shooting), and the threes poured in from Wilson Chandler (11 points), Will Barton (19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists), Trey Lyles (12 points and 2 blocks), and Denver newcomer Devin Harris (6 points, 2/5 from deep).

The extended break comes at an opportune time for Milwaukee. Mirza Teletovic (blood clots) and Malcolm Brogdon (quad) may not be walking through that door anytime soon, but the Bucks don’t suit up again until February 23, giving John Henson (hamstring) and Matthew Dellavedova (ankle) plenty of time to progress through their respective injuries. Get well soon, guys!

Stat That Stood Out

60.0%. Denver’s three-point attempt rate is only slightly higher than average (30.3 attempts/game before this evening), and they were smack in the middle of the league with an average 3P% of 36.1%...but they forgot that in Milwaukee, hitting 24 of their 40 attempts. Some of the Bucks’ defensive possessions were solid, a fair number more of them left something to be desired, but seemingly no matter what the Nuggets’ shots just kept dropping. The Bucks put up an admirable fight in the fourth quarter, but Denver’s absurd conversion rate from outside was just too much to handle.

We have an extended break from Bucks basketball for a little while. In light of recent events in Florida, please take this opportunity to be good to yourselves, and to each other.