Nothing came easy — again — for the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night. Khris Middleton was a perfect example.
Middleton’s only 3-pointer of the night with 27 seconds left — after seven misses behind the arc — helped the Bucks pull out a 104-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets Monday night at Fiserv Forum.
The Bucks (12-4), trailed by as many as 17 in the first half before finally fighting off the multi-weapon Nuggets. The Bucks swept the season series, having won eight days earlier in Denver.
Middleton had suffered through a miserable night from the field prior to his big shot. He was 3 for 14 overall before finally making his first triple of the night to put the Nuggets down for good. Middleton finished the night with 13 points.
For the third straight home game, the Bucks played an out-of-sorts first half and fell behind big. They trailed by 17 before finally trimming the margin to 56-46 at the half.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 third-quarter points to lead the Bucks to a 79-78 lead entering the fourth, but Milwaukee never got any consistency going.
A dunk by Pat Connaughton pulled the Bucks into an 89-89 tie with 6:08 left. Eric Bledsoe then made it an 8-0 run, connecting on two straight 3-pointers to give the Bucks a 95-89 lead with 3:54 left.
Nikola Jokic responded with a 3-point play out of a timeout to pull the Nuggets within three, but Antetokounmpo got his hands on a pass to get the ball back.
Brook Lopez cashed in the possession with his third 3-pointer of the night for a 98-92 lead, and Antetokounmpo dunked off an alley-oop pass from Bledsoe to make it 100-92.
But the Nuggets again came back, as 3-pointers by Monte Harris and Jokic suddenly had Denver withn 100-98 with 48.9 seconds left.
Middleton then came up with his first 3-pointer of the night.
Antetokounmpo led the way with 29 points and 12 rebounds, and Bledsoe added 23 on 8-of-10 shooting.
The Bucks were 7 of 30 on 3-pointers before making 4 of their last 6 behind the arc.
Jokic had 20 points to lead the Nuggets (10-7), who have lost six of their last seven, including two to the Bucks.
The Bucks won the rebounding battle, 51-43, after trailing much of the night as the Nuggets seemed to win every 50-50 battle through threee quarters.