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Antetokounmpo, Bledsoe lead Bucks past Nuggets, 104-98

MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks have been plagued lately by sluggish first-half performances.

They got away with it again Monday night.

The Bucks fell behind by 17 points before rallying to down the Denver Nuggets 104-98. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and Eric Bledsoe added 23, including two late 3-pointers.

Antetokounmpo added 12 rebounds for Milwaukee, which came from 22 down in the first half to beat the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. The Bucks also fell behind by double digits in the first quarter in a loss to Memphis on Wednesday.

''We've got to do a better job to try to set the tone,'' Antetokounmpo said. ''I think we did a better job this game, but we can do a lot better. I think our talent saves us. I feel like we are so talented that even when we are down 10, down 15, we can always get back into the game.''

The Bucks swept the two-game season series against the Nuggets for the first time since 2009-10.

Jamal Murray had 17 points, eight rebounds and a season-best nine assists for Denver, which has lost six of its last seven games.

''We still have confidence. We just aren't winning games,'' Murray said.

Nikola Jokic had 20 points, Gary Harris 14 and Malik Beasley chipped in with a season-high 12 points off the bench.

''I was really pleased with the fight and the competitive spirit. We gave ourselves a chance against a very good basketball team on the road,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''But there are no moral victories. We've got to start winning these games.''

The Bucks led 78-77 heading to fourth quarter. The teams exchanged leads until Milwaukee went on a late 8-0 run that featured a pair of 3-pointers by Bledsoe.

''I think Eric is in a really good place,'' Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. ''He is understanding what we need in different moments.''

Denver pulled within two points with less than a minute left on Jokic's 3 but Khris Middleton, who had been 0 for 7 from deep, answered with a 3-pointer to put the Bucks up 103-98 with 27 seconds left.

After trailing by 10 to start the third quarter, the Bucks grabbed the lead late in the period on a slam dunk by Antetokounmpo.

Denver used a 17-4 to start the second quarter to build a 17-point lead and held a 56-46 advantage at the half. Milwaukee closed the half on a 10-3 run.

The Nuggets led 29-25 after the first quarter, sparked by nine points from Gary Harris.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Shot 6 of 21 from 3-point range in the first half. .With 11 first-half points, Murray was the lone Denver player to reach double figures, although all nine players who saw action scored. ...Malone was whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter after arguing an offensive foul call on Juancho Hernangomez.

Bucks: Lopez had seven first-quarter rebounds. He entered the game averaging 3.3 rebounds. .Antetokounmpo and Middleton combined to shoot 1 for 14 from 3-point range.

CITY EDITION

The Bucks donned their colorful city edition uniforms for the first time this season. The uniforms feature a color scheme inspired by the Robert Indiana-designed court at the MECCA, which served as the Bucks' home until 1988. Milwaukee will wear the uniforms for 12 games this season.

LONG-RANGE LOPEZ

Brook Lopez, who connected on a career-high eight 3-pointers when the teams met earlier this month, was just 2 of 7 from deep but both turned out to be clutch. Lopez's 3-pointer late in the first half helped fuel a Bucks' rally. His 3 with 2:41 left in the game gave the Bucks a six-point lead.

TURNOVER TROUBLES

Although Murray nearly recorded his first career triple-double, he also committed five turnovers.

''He did some good things out there for us. For him, the challenge is going to be valuing the basketball,'' Malone said. ''As a starting point guard, you can't have five turnovers.''

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Visits Minnesota on Wednesday.

Bucks: Host Portland on Wednesday.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
N. Jokic
15 C
G. Antetokounmpo
34 PF
32.6 Min. Per Game 32.6
25.6 Pts. Per Game 25.6
5.5 Ast. Per Game 5.5
12.7 Reb. Per Game 12.7
51.2 Field Goal % 55.5
51.2 Three Point % 54.5
82.1 Free Throw % 67.2
  Defensive rebound by Giannis Antetokounmpo 0:00
  Paul Millsap missed 3-pt. jump shot, blocked by Brook Lopez 0:03
  Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic 0:05
  Gary Harris missed jump shot 0:07
+ 1 Eric Bledsoe made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:15
  Eric Bledsoe missed 1st of 2 free throws 0:15
  Team rebound 0:15
  Personal foul on Juancho Hernangomez 0:15
  Personal foul on Nikola Jokic 0:18
  Juancho Hernangomez missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:20
  Offensive rebound by Juancho Hernangomez 0:22
Team Stats
Points 98 104
Field Goals 40-94 (42.6%) 40-88 (45.5%)
3-Pointers 12-41 (29.3%) 11-36 (30.6%)
Free Throws 6-9 (66.7%) 13-22 (59.1%)
Total Rebounds 53 61
Offensive 13 13
Defensive 30 38
Team 10 10
Assists 30 21
Steals 5 7
Blocks 4 3
Turnovers 16 14
Fouls 20 16
Technicals 2 0
17 PTS, 8 REB, 9 AST
29 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST
1234T
away team logo Nuggets 10-7 2927212198
home team logo Bucks 12-4 25213226104
Team Stats
away team logo Nuggets 10-7 109.1 PPG 47.7 RPG 24.0 APG
home team logo Bucks 12-4 116.8 PPG 52.8 RPG 25.3 APG
Key Players
N. Jokic C 25.1 PPG 13.0 RPG 8.4 APG 50.6 FG%
G. Antetokounmpo PF 27.4 PPG 12.1 RPG 4.6 APG 51.6 FG%
Top Scorers
N. Jokic C 20 PTS 5 REB 5 AST
G. Antetokounmpo PF 29 PTS 12 REB 6 AST
42.6 FG% 45.5
29.3 3PT FG% 30.6
66.7 FT% 59.1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
N. Jokic 20 5 5 8/18 3/8 1/1 1 32 1 0 3 3 2 -16 33
J. Murray 17 8 9 7/14 2/5 1/2 3 36 0 1 5 2 6 -8 39
G. Harris 14 0 6 6/16 2/6 0/0 3 34 1 0 2 0 0 -12 25
P. Millsap 8 9 2 3/9 0/4 2/2 3 28 1 1 1 2 7 -10 22
J. Hernangomez 6 7 0 2/10 1/5 1/1 5 29 1 0 1 3 4 -6 13
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
N. Jokic 20 5 5 8/18 3/8 1/1 1 32 1 0 3 3 2 -16 33
J. Murray 17 8 9 7/14 2/5 1/2 3 36 0 1 5 2 6 -8 39
G. Harris 14 0 6 6/16 2/6 0/0 3 34 1 0 2 0 0 -12 25
P. Millsap 8 9 2 3/9 0/4 2/2 3 28 1 1 1 2 7 -10 22
J. Hernangomez 6 7 0 2/10 1/5 1/1 5 29 1 0 1 3 4 -6 13
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
M. Beasley 12 4 2 4/7 4/7 0/0 0 22 1 0 0 0 4 -1 21
M. Morris 10 3 4 5/9 0/2 0/0 2 25 0 0 1 0 3 +8 20
T. Lyles 6 2 1 3/8 0/4 0/1 1 15 0 0 1 0 2 +5 9
M. Plumlee 5 5 1 2/3 0/0 1/2 2 15 0 2 2 3 2 +10 12
I. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
W. Barton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Akoon-Purcell - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Welsh - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lydon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Craig - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Vanderbilt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Porter Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 98 43 30 40/94 12/41 6/9 20 236 5 4 16 13 30 -30 194
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Antetokounmpo 29 12 6 13/25 0/6 3/6 3 39 2 0 4 3 9 +11 51
E. Bledsoe 23 5 5 8/10 3/4 4/9 1 35 3 0 4 2 3 +7 37
M. Brogdon 13 8 3 5/11 1/2 2/3 0 30 0 0 3 1 7 0 24
K. Middleton 13 6 5 4/15 1/8 4/4 2 36 2 0 0 1 5 +6 31
B. Lopez 8 10 0 3/10 2/7 0/0 3 33 0 3 1 1 9 +13 20
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Antetokounmpo 29 12 6 13/25 0/6 3/6 3 39 2 0 4 3 9 +11 51
E. Bledsoe 23 5 5 8/10 3/4 4/9 1 35 3 0 4 2 3 +7 37
M. Brogdon 13 8 3 5/11 1/2 2/3 0 30 0 0 3 1 7 0 24
K. Middleton 13 6 5 4/15 1/8 4/4 2 36 2 0 0 1 5 +6 31
B. Lopez 8 10 0 3/10 2/7 0/0 3 33 0 3 1 1 9 +13 20
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
E. Ilyasova 8 4 0 3/6 2/2 0/0 3 18 0 0 1 2 2 +3 11
P. Connaughton 5 3 2 2/3 1/2 0/0 1 17 0 0 0 1 2 +3 12
T. Snell 3 2 0 1/4 1/3 0/0 1 18 0 0 1 1 1 0 4
S. Brown 2 1 0 1/4 0/2 0/0 2 5 0 0 0 1 0 -2 3
T. Maker 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 -11 0
J. Henson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Dellavedova - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Wood - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. DiVincenzo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Wilson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Duval - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Morris - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 104 51 21 40/88 11/36 13/22 16 234 7 3 14 13 38 +30 193