NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 20th (All times Eastern)
Denver Nuggets (24-28) at Milwaukee Bucks (10-43), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The All-Star break didn't seem to help the struggling Denver Nuggets in their quest to keep an impressive playoff streak intact.
The Nuggets lost their first game out of the break and look to find some solace on the road when they open a quick trip Thursday against arguably the worst team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Denver, which will also visit Chicago and is 10-16 away from home, dropped a 112-107 overtime decision to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. The Nuggets squandered a 99-94 lead in the final minute of regulation and Wilson Chandler's jumper at the buzzer was off the mark.
Phoenix scored 13 of the 21 points in the extra session. But Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds and missed on a 3-point attempt with 1.6 seconds to go.
"I knew they were going to play off of me, and I had a clear look," Hickson said. "It actually felt good. I just missed the shot."
The Nuggets trailed by as many as 14 points early on and were playing their first home game since Feb. 5. Evan Fournier led the Nuggets with 25 points off the bench, Kenneth Faried added 21 and 10 rebounds and Chandler ended with 15 points for Denver, which has lost five in a row.
Denver is one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, allowing 104.6 ppg, and has given up 100 or more points in 10 straight games. The team struggled to rebound all night, including in the closing moments of the game and OT.
"I thought our defense played well enough to come away with the win but our inability to defensive rebound during that critical stretch at the end fourth quarter where just one of those defensive rebounds, where they got the offensive rebound and the put back, allowed them to push the game into overtime," said Nuggets coach Brian Shaw.
The Nuggets, who have reached the playoffs in each of the past 10 seasons, will visit Chicago Friday night and are winless in four straight games on the road. Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson missed another game with a fractured rib and is out indefinitely.
Milwaukee became the last team in the league to reach 10 wins with Tuesday's 104-100 triumph over the Orlando Magic.
Caron Butler and Brandon Knight scored 21 and 18 points, respectively, while Nate Wolters had 15 points and Khris Middleton netted 12 for Milwaukee, which halted a four-game slide and won for only the second time in 12 games. The Bucks are now 28-17 in the first game following the All-Star break, including a 4-2 mark in the last six seasons.
Wolters buried a big 3-pointer late in the game to keep Milwaukee in front.
"The play kind of broke down and I ended up with it. I was fortunate it went in," Wolters said.
Milwaukee had been 1-33 in games when allowing an opponent to shoot a higher percentage from the field.
Butler returned to the floor after missing four games with an ankle sprain. He made 6-of-9 3-pointers in the first half and finished 7-of-13 from downtown.
The Bucks had lost three in a row at the Bradley Center and are 1-3 on a six- game homestand, which concludes Saturday versus Central rival Indiana. Milwaukee has a 6-21 mark on its home floor this season.
Milwaukee lost to Denver 110-100 on Feb. 5 in the Mile High City, as Chandler led the way with 24 points in that one. Larry Sanders and Middleton scored 25 points apiece to pace the Bucks, losers in seven straight, 11 of 15 and 17 of the last 22 meetings in this series.
The Nuggets have prevailed in each of their last three trips to Brew City.
02/20 10:32:29 ET