After winning against the Magic at home on Wednesday, Milwaukee couldn’t capitalize and once again failed to win consecutive games this season by losing 101-90 to the Denver Nuggets Thursday night.
Hours before the tip, the Bucks shipped Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for born-again Buck Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. Brandon Knight was ruled out of tonight’s game with a right heel injury, leaving Milwaukee with only one natural point guard for the night in rookie Nate Wolters. That led to Larry Drew going with his 24th different starting lineup of the season, which is their most since ‘02-‘03.
In the first half, Milwaukee struggle to score the basketball with one of their main threats out (Brandon Knight). At just the end of the first quarter, Caron Butler had eight points but no other Bucks player scored more than two. When the half was over, Butler led the way with 11 points and O.J. Mayo dropped in 8 after seeing action for the first time since January 25th. Mayo missed the last 10 games due to illness/conditioning. After the game, Mayo said, “I felt good, real good, I’m just happy to be out there and to compete with the guys.”
With Wolters as the only serviceable point guard option, Larry Drew decided to get saucy and play Giannis Antetokounmpo at the point in the first quarter. Antetokounmpo has always had the skills to the play the point and Drew didn’t hesitate to have him do so tonight being shorthanded up front.
Drew went with a different starting lineup in the second half by inserting John Henson and pulling Zaza Pachulia. Henson has been bothered by an ankle injury recently and started the game on the bench. Regardless, Denver went nuts in the third quarter inside. Kenneth Faried scored 12 in the quarter alone while J. J. Hickson had 12 points and 10 boards as Denver ended the third on an 8-2 run to put them up 78-67. The fourth quarter was even worse, Faried was a man among boys as he finished the game with 26 and his bucket inside at the 5:03 mark put Denver up by 13 in the game. Faried’s career-high for points is 28 and he came just within two of tying that.
“He really dominated in the paint, he’s an energy guy. We had to match his energy in transition and on the glass and we didn’t do that. That kid has a very high motor, and you’ve got to match that intensity because he’s relentless in going to the glass. He’s a very physical guy and he plays with physicality and you have to match that or he’ll gobble you up and that’s what happened tonight.” Drew said post-game on defending Faried.
Denver turned things up late in the fourth quarter to put this game completely out of reach for Milwaukee, putting the final score at 101-90. We just never seemed to sustain a rhythm.” Larry Drew said. The loss was Milwaukee’s eight straight against the Nuggets, and Denver snapped a five-game losing streaking with tonight’s win. The Bucks never led in this entire game and Denver’s biggest lead was 15.
“It is good to feel what it’s like to get a “W” again.” Brian Shaw said afterwards. “It’s been a while for us. I thought that our team defensively really got after it. I’m pleased with our effort overall and like I said, this is the last team we got a victory against before we went on the road last time, so it feels good to be on this side again.”
Caron Butler led all Bucks players with 17 points, and Milwaukee had six players finish in double-figures. The Bucks will wrap up their six-game home trip on Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers.