It was a tale of two halves in Denver on Wednesday night, as the Bucks battled but fell to the Nuggets in a heartbreaker, 103-102.
Jerryd Bayless led the Bucks in scoring with 22 points off the bench, including three three-pointers. Greg Monroe added in another double double, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets in scoring with 25 points.
Milwaukee immediately came flying out of the gates. A flourish of three-pointers ballooned them out in front for nearly the entire first half. Flashes were coming from the bench, especially players who haven’t shown up much year, the most being Greivis Vasquez. He finished the first half with 15 points and a pair of three-pointers. Milwaukee took an 11 point lead into halftime at 64-53.
The Bucks were performing great until the third quarter rolled around. Scoring outbursts from Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari started to get the Nuggets rolling. Denver’s run began with six minutes remaining in the third quarter when Kenneth Faried went to the free throw line. They would surge out to an 11-0 run, which took away all momentum the Bucks had previously built up.
A layup from Nikola Jokic extended the Denver lead to 13 with 8:52 in the game, their biggest lead of the night. However, the Bucks were not done just yet, as Jerryd Bayless continued to show his worthiness as he finished the game with 22 points and was the Bucks’ go-to man down the stretch.
Kenneth Faried, also recognizable by his nickname of “The Manimal,” made his presence known in the second half of the game. The Bucks had no answer for him in the third quarter, as he almost single-handedly brought Denver back himself. Faried finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, but no point was more important than his put-in off a Danilo Gallinari air ball that put the Nuggets up by one with five seconds left in the game. The Bucks tried to draw up a play with Khris Middleton, but he was unable to connect on a corner baseline three as time expired.
Although they lost, there were definitely some bright spots in the Bucks’ game. The bench contributed 41 points after putting forth only 25 the night before against Boston, something that was comforting to see. Jerryd Bayless continued to shine, but the story of the game was Greivis Vasquez breaking out of his cocoon. The Venezuelan came out scorching hot, which is something the Bucks hope to see out of him, especially if O.J. Mayo continues to be sidelined. By honing in his three-point shooting on a consistent basis, that provides the team with another deep threat off the bench.
The Bucks will look to bounce back from their two-game losing streak this Saturday as the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers make their way into the BMO Harris Bradley Center. This game may be the first time that the lineup of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe make their debuts together. Carter-Williams is nursing an ankle injury and Parker stayed back in Milwaukee from Denver for a decision that was pre-determined.