By The Associated Press
DENVER — Khris Middleton had 29 points and a career-high 12 assists, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and the Milwaukee Bucks won their fifth straight game by beating the Denver Nuggets 125-112 on Monday night.
Middleton’s 12th assist was a thing of beauty — a pinpoint pass to Antetokounmpo for a dunk with 1:39 remaining to give the Bucks a 120-110 lead.
Bryn Forbes had 15 points for the Bucks, who earned a rare win in the Mile High City. Milwaukee improved to 10-40 all-time at Denver.
Nikola Jokic finished with 35 points and 12 rebounds in a showdown with Antetokounmpo. Jokic couldn’t quite replicate his shooting touch from the other night when he scored a career-high 50 points at Sacramento.
Will Barton added a season-high 24 points as the Nuggets dropped their third straight.
Before the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone broke down Antetokounmpo’s talents this way: “The athleticism, the ability to get downhill to use that Euro-step, to use his size, length and athleticism to live in the paint and finish at a high level.”
That proved to be an apt description, with Antetokounmpo scoring 14 points in the third quarter and hitting a big 3-pointer late in the fourth.
Milwaukee and Denver came out launching from 3-point range in the first half, combining to go 19 of 49. The Nuggets led 62-59 at the break in a tight opening half that featured 14 lead changes.
∫ Tip-ins: Bucks: G Jrue Holiday was out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. … The Bucks outrebounded the Nuggets by a 50-38 margin.
Nuggets: Gary Harris missed his third straight game with a strained left adductor. … F Paul Millsap had 14 points. … Reserve G Monte Morris finished with 12 points. … G Jamal Murray went 4 of 17 from the floor in scoring 11 points.
∫ Main Attraction: Asked about the marquee matchup between Jokic and Antetokounmpo, Malone feigned hurt feelings.
“Are you telling me the marquee matchup isn’t Michael Malone and Mike Budenholzer?” Malone kidded.
∫ Star Attraction: When it comes to containing stars such as Jokic, Budenholzer, the Bucks’ coach, maintained it’s important to take a committee approach.
“We want people connected at all times and ready to help cover for each other,” Budenholzer explained. “It goes to another level when you’re playing the elite players. You’ve got to be even more active, more committed and then you’ve got to scramble around that.”
∫ Familiar face: Bucks forward Torrey Craig returned to Denver after spending his first three seasons with the Nuggets. The team put together a video tribute to him and aired it on the scoreboard in the first quarter. Craig finished with nine points — all on 3-pointers.
Thunder 112, OT
LOS ANGELES — LeBron James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for his third triple-double of the season, and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City to win its fifth in a row.
It was their second straight overtime win after beating Detroit in two overtimes on Saturday. The Lakers tied their longest winning streak of the season despite being without Anthony Davis, who sat out with right Achilles tendinosis.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander narrowly missed matching James’ triple-double. He finished with 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Darius Bazley added 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Hamidou Diallo had 20 points and tied his career high with 11 rebounds.
Dennis Schroder added 19 points for the Lakers. Montrezl Harrell had 21 points and Wesley Matthews had 16, including four 3-pointers, off the bench. Kyle Kuzma added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
SAN ANTONIO — Dejounte Murray had 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals, and DeMar DeRozan added 21 points and 10 assists as San Antonio beat Golden State.
Stephen Curry scored 32 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 24 for the Warriors, who were without injured centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney. Draymond Green had 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Murray hit a step-back 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds remaining that gave the Spurs a 101-97 lead. Curry responded with his own fall-away 3, but DeRozan closed out the game by making four straight free throws.
The teams meet again tonight in San Antonio.
The Spurs trailed by 14 in the first half before rallying.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — LaMelo Ball made a career-high seven 3-pointers and finished with 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as Charlotte defeated short-handed Houston.
Miles Bridges had another strong outing with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Gordon Hayward added 19 points for the Hornets, who opened the fourth quarter on a 19-1 run to break open a tight game.
Victor Oladipo had 21 points to lead the Rockets, who lost for only the third time in 10 games.
Houston played without three of its top four scorers — John Wall, Eric Gordon and Christian Wood. Gordon and Wall were given a night of rest, while Wood missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle. Together, the trio is accounting for more than 59 points per game.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam each scored 32 points and Toronto put together a second-half rally to beat Memphis.
Norman Powell added 29 points for the Raptors, who began their comeback after coach Nick Nurse was ejected in the third quarter. VanVleet also had nine assists for Toronto, which outscored Memphis 65-43 in the second half — including 34-16 in the fourth quarter.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Grizzlies with 27 points and a season-high 20 rebounds. Ja Morant had 18 points and nine assists but was only 5 of 17 from the field as Memphis shot 43%.
DALLAS — Kristaps Porzingis had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, Luka Doncic scored 26 points and Dallas held off Minnesota.
Tim Hardaway added 24 points off the bench as the Mavericks won their second straight at home after a six-game skid at the American Airlines Center. They led by 25 in the second quarter before the Timberwolves pulled to 123-120 with 50 seconds left.
Josh Richardson hit a jumper with 27 seconds to go for a five-point lead and Malik Beasley missed a 3-pointer seconds later.
Beasley tied a season high with 30 points, 27 in the second half, and rookie Anthony Edwards added 22 for the Timberwolves, who finished a 1-4 trip.
Wizards 105, Bulls 101
CHICAGO — Bradley Beal scored 35 points and Washington held on for a rare win, beating Chicago.
Beal, the NBA’s leading scorer, hit three free throws in the final 9.8 seconds. Rui Hachimura added 19 points and a season-high 10 rebounds on his 23rd birthday, and the Wizards improved to 6-15 despite resting Russell Westbrook.
Zach LaVine had 35 points but missed a potential tying layup that was contested in the closing seconds. The Bulls lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Suns 119, Cavaliers 113
PHOENIX — Devin Booker scored a season-high 36 points, Mikal Bridges added 22 and Phoenix rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland.
The Suns have won six of seven while the Cavaliers have dropped four straight. Booker made 14 of 27 shots, including five 3-pointers.
Phoenix took a 101-100 lead with seven minutes left on a 3 from Cam Johnson. The second-year forward had missed his first six attempts from beyond the arc.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 23 points. Andre Drummond added 15 points and 14 rebounds.