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Milwaukee vs. Denver: Jokic & Co. Dismantle Bucks, 134-123

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Nikola Jokic’s triple-double in 17 (!!!) minutes propels Denver to the finish line

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

Welp. Let’s just say that when your opponent hits 24 threes and comes one 3-pointer away from tying the single game NBA record, your chances of winning the game diminish — severely. That’s exactly what happened at the Bradley Center last night, as the Bucks fumbled away an opportunity to head into the All-Star Break on a high note. They lost to the Denver Nuggets, 134-123.

Denver wasted no time in getting started. The first quarter featured them pouring in a piping hot 65 percent from the floor, which was good enough to provide them a 35-28 lead after one. There would be no cool down for the Nuggets in the second quarter, as they expanded their lead to 74-62 at the half.

Milwaukee would make it close in the third quarter, but that failed to keep that the trend for the entire period. It’d be tough for the Bucks to make up any ground in the final 12 minutes as well. It was the classic game of trading baskets, and the home squad never got enough momentum built up to fully swing into tying the game up. The Nuggets kept slicing and dicing their way through Milwaukee’s defense and ended up leaving town with the 134-123 victory.

For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo sang the high notes, putting a game-high 36 points under his belt. Eric Bledsoe aided with 27 points of his own. The Bucks failed to have another scorer over the 20 point mark, as Khris Middleton finished with 17 on the night.

Denver was led by 22 year-old phenomenon Nikola Jokic, who, simply put, wowed the crowd with his triple-double stat line (30/15/17). It was the fastest recorded triple-double in NBA history. Michigan State product Gary Harris finished with 28 points and Jamal Murray helped the cause with 26 points.

Three Observations

Nikola Jokic was a force of nature.

I’ve never seen anything like that. Nobody has seen anything like that — his triple double was the fastest one ever achieved. He’s severely underrated, and even that’s an understatement. Over his last six games heading into the All-Star Break, Jokic is averaging 20.2 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, 8.3 assists per game, 1.3 steals per game, and 0.8 blocks per game. Oh yeah, and that’s just in 30 minutes per game. In that span, he’s notched two triple-doubles. Pretty impressive if you ask me. I came into tonight excited to see him play, and boy, did everyone leave the Bradley Center amazed.

Oh, imagine if we had a true center.

Combining Jokic’s performance and the fact that the Bucks were without John Henson equaled a disaster. He just simply had what he wanted to at the buffet, all night long. Zeller couldn’t really contain him, but he did a better job than Thon Maker, who was just victimized all throughout the game. It continues to reveal what we’re all aware about Thon. Until he really beefs up in all aspects of his body, he’s likely to continue getting bullied in the paint. It’s simple fact at this point. Let’s cross our fingers and really hope that he dedicates re-shaping his body into much stronger muscle this offseason.

All things considered, I’ll take 9-3 in the Prunty era.

I say this because of what I thought the other day. Sure, the Bucks have played some lowly opponents in this recent stretch of games. But, let’s say that Jason Kidd was still the head coach during this time. How confident are you that the team’s record would be 9-3 still? I wouldn’t be willing to bet much money on it. That’s why I’m saying I’ll definitely take 9-3. Could it have been better? Sure, but hindsight is 20/20. Heading into the All-Star Break, Milwaukee currently sits at the No. 6 seed with a record of 32-25. For at how many low points there’ve been this season, I’ll reluctantly take that.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • One of the positives on the night is that Tyler Zeller finished with another strong scoring performance off the pine. He led all scorers off the bench with 14 points. It’s been nice he’s been able to acclimate to his new surroundings so well in such a short amount of time. With Henson out, he’s done alright keeping the ship afloat, as long as the team doesn’t go up against a monster like Nikola Jokic.
  • Nikola Jokic had a triple-double in the first half. Wow. IN 17 MINUTES. That really happened. Sorry, I just had to type it out again to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.
  • Eric Bledsoe was coming off nine assists on Tuesday vs. the Hawks. He followed that off with eight more last night, making it six straight games of at least six assists. This may be what some people that were venting frustration at his style of play were asking for. Recently, it seems he’s been reluctant at bricking shots in despicable fashion (though he did attempt a team-high six 3-pointers last night, so take that how you may). Let’s hope he continues his strong facilitation of the basketball when the team re-joins each other after the All-Star Break. l when the team
  • Sure, Denver stroked the 3-point shot at an insane rate (60 percent, to be exact). But you’re still in the right to blame the Bucks’ defense in not closing out shooters fast enough. At some points, I had to look at the sidelines to ensure that Jason Kidd wasn’t taking over. Thankfully, that remains the story in an alternate universe (along with Kidd being the GM). But nonetheless, allowing 24 3-pointers is absolutely embarrassing.
  • Now time for my uniform review! Ever since they revealed it, I’ve never been a fan of the dark blue in Denver’s rebranding. I’ll forever be a proponent of sky blue sports jerseys. I don’t know if there’s a cooler color in the uniform spectrum. And man, the old Nuggets sky blues are CRISPY (you can’t forget about the rainbow jerseys either). LOVE them.