);
Denver Nuggets

Jamal Murray shines as Denver Nuggets hand Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks their third-straight loss

The Denver Nuggets clamped down on the defensive end to secure a 109-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, sweeping the season series 2-0.

The short-handed Bucks, who were missing Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a knee sprain, suffered their first three-game losing streak in the Mike Budenholzer era.

Milwaukee were also without starters Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez as well as George Hill.

All five Nuggets starters scored in double figures on the night, while Jerami Grant added 19 points off the bench.

Jamal Murray led the way with 21 points, while Paul Millsap recorded a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double. Gary Harris added 15 points and Will Barton 13, with Nikola Jokic finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.

Murray powered the Nuggets offence all night and had the Pepsi Center crowd on their feet late in the third quarter, throwing down this monstrous poster dunk, however he was whistled for an offensive foul.

"It was an impressive dunk. I didn't see the foul [on the play]," Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said. "It got the building lit; everyone was up...I would agree, Jamal's non-basket, was the most impactful play of the night."

The Nuggets took a 76-71 lead at the end of the third, riding their momentum home behind a strong fourth-quarter push.

They outscored the Bucks 33-24 in the final frame, with Jokic coming to life after a slow start, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth.

While the Nuggets delivered on the offensive end, it was their work on the other side of the ball that got them over the line.

The blocked eight shots on the night and matched their third-highest steals total of the season with 11 in the game, with Barton accounting for four on his own.

The injury-depleted Bucks were held to 37.8 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from the three-point line, going 15-of-50 from deep.

The Bucks now sit at 53-12 on the season, 6.5 games clear of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference, however their recent slump, dropping four of their past five games has seen their lead over the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the league dwindle.

Veteran Kyle Korver was the only player to score 20+ points for the Bucks with 23 on 8-of-15 shooting, while Sterling Brown added 16 points and six rebounds, including this monster jam in the second quarter.

The Bucks will look to bounce back when they return home to take on the Boston Celtics on Friday, while the Nuggets travel to take on the Dallas Mavericks in a potential playoff matchup on Thursday.

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