Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks roll past Nuggets

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and matched his season high with 18 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks turned in another encouraging defensive outing in a 112-95 win over the visiting Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Damian Lillard scored 18 points, Bobby Portis Jr. added 13 and AJ Green, Malik Beasley and Brook Lopez each had nine for Milwaukee, which led by as many as 28 points and improved to 3-5 since Doc Rivers took over as the head coach.

One game after allowing a season-low 84 points in a win over the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Friday, the Bucks limited Denver to 38.3 percent shooting and 11-of-40 success (27.5 percent) from 3-point range.

Antetokounmpo added three steals and two blocks in 30 minutes for Milwaukee, which has held opponents under 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 22-24, 2021.

Nikola Jokic led Denver with 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Aaron Gordon scored 14 points, and Michael Porter Jr. had 11.

The Nuggets played short-handed after Jamal Murray (leg) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (hamstring) both exited with injuries in the first half.

Milwaukee avenged a 113-107 loss to the Nuggets on Jan. 29 in Denver. In the rematch, the Bucks connected on 50 percent of their shots, including 16 of 34 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc.

Milwaukee jumped to an early 13-2 lead and held a 28-23 advantage at the end of the opening quarter. Jokic had 14 points in the period.

The Bucks soon gained control and led 47-31 midway through the second quarter. Antetokounmpo scored 26 points in the half to help Milwaukee take a 60-44 lead into intermission.

Denver was held to 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 6 of 19 (31.6 percent) from 3-point range in the first half. Jokic provided the bulk of the Nuggets’ offense, outscoring his teammates 23-21 in the half.

Denver pulled within 13 before Milwaukee closed the third quarter on a 21-6 run and took a 91-63 lead into the final period. Lillard led the Bucks with 14 points in the third quarter.

Patrick Beverley hit a 3-pointer to give Milwaukee a 98-73 lead early in the fourth quarter, and both teams rested their starters for the game’s final six minutes.