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Rapid Recap: Bucks 125, Nuggets 128 (OT)

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

The Milwaukee Bucks had a golden opportunity to finish their trip with a 3-1 record, but deadly mistakes late cost them against the Denver Nuggets as the Nugs prevailed 128-125 in overtime. Milwaukee got off to a stellar start early, punishing Denver’s destitute defense and taking a 34-22 lead after one. That lead wouldn’t last long for the Bucks, as Denver was +21 in the second quarter to take a 63-54 advantage into halftime. Milwaukee reasserted their control in the third quarter, blitzing the Nuggets and restoring a 92-79 lead going into the final period. Milwaukee coughed up a lead late in the fourth, compounded by a boneheaded play by Middleton to turn the ball over and the Nuggets tied it up at 111 at the end of regulation. Denver took control in overtime and didn’t let Milwaukee work back into it.

Milwaukee finishing their road trip with a split would’ve been acceptable for all Bucks fans. The unfortunate part about tonight was how they absolutely choked this winnable game away against a team that’s struggling to beat even the league’s worst teams. This was a prime opportunity to help playoff jockeying and try for that outside chance at retaining their pick. This loss will likely color the road trip with negative vibes, no matter the fact a split is as good as most of us expected.

Giannis Antetokounmpo passed along the scoring buck for much of tonight, but still made his presence felt throughout the box score with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists before fouling out on an offensive foul late in the fourth quarter. His foul trouble likely made him less aggressive attacking the bucket in the second half, however he was still able to facilitate and draw defenders.

Jabari Parker was the big storyline for the Bucks tonight, notching his season-high 35 points. Eric Bledsoe used his speed to attack the Nuggets interior, ending with 31 points on 22 shots. Khris Middleton, meanwhile, struggled all night from the field, hitting just 4 of 18 to finish with 15 points and making the critical turnover down the stretch.

Nikola Jokic was predictably the leading scorer for Denver, destroying the Bucks in other ways across the court with 35 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Paul Millsap managed to score 26 points with 13 rebounds while Jamal Murray had a tidy, efficient scoring night with 27 points on 15 shots.

Stat that Stood Out

35 Points - Jabari’s scoring output really was the story tonight. His confidence driving to the rim and pulling up from the perimeter was a welcome sight for all Bucks fans. Denver had no option for him, particularly with Paul Millsap generally intent on trying to hold Giannis in check, a task he performed admirably. Meanwhile, that left the Nuggets weaker interior defender to try and match Jabari, who punished everyone who provided him space by either nailing a jumper or attacking the paint. He may have pulled up for an ill-advised shot to end OT, but without his contributions this could’ve been an even worse loss for Milwaukee.