Make your weed jokes, make your altitude sickness barbs, but Mike Budenholzer’s bizarre choice to bench all his primary players and run the bench crew nearly resulted in a victory, as the Milwaukee Bucks ultimately fell 95-109 to the Denver Nuggets. Even with a skeleton crew, the Bucks kept some meat on the bones offensively in the first half, trailing just 54-62. Improbably, the Bucks made a run in the third quarter to make it just a 76-71 game to begin the fourth. While the backup brigade didn’t end Milwaukee’s losing streak, it certainly gave the Nuggets a tougher run than they likely expected.
It’s not often I get to write this, but Kyle Korver, yes, the 38-year old with a creaky back, led the Bucks in scoring at 23 points. Sterling Brown, finally given some chance to shine as a primary creator, looked shaky but still mustered 16 points. Kudos to Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who gave us some of our best highlights with a stellar block and dunk, and did it efficiently with nine points on six shots.
Nikola Jokic was almost invisible the entire game, amassing just 10 points on 13 shots to go with nine boards and seven assists. Jamal Murray was louder, going for 21 points to accompany Paul Millsap’s 20 and Jerami Grant’s 19. Together, their scoring punch proved too much for the undermanned Milwaukee squad.
Stat that Stood Out
Unfortunately, there is no singular stat that can best summarize the singular achievement we saw tonight. There is only one number to highlight, and that is five, as in who the starting five were tonight: Sterling Brown, Wes Matthews, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Pat Connaughton and Robin Lopez. All credit to Bud for having the cajones to keep all his capable players on the bench and stick with it through thick and thin. Kudos to all the bench players for keeping this one entertaining throughout; weird, enjoyable wrinkle even if it came in a loss.