Milwaukee Bucks

MVP duel: Nikola Jokic outshines Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Khris Middleton steals the show to lead Bucks to win in Denver

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This Bucks-Nuggets clash was headlined by a contest between the two-time reigning MVP and another European who is making a strong case for the MVP this season.

The Serbian beat out the Greek Freak in their duel but the visiting Bucks had the final say, as they beat the Nuggets 125-112. Up until the fourth quarter, when Bucks started running away with it, this game was an entertaining one, featuring 15 lead changes with neither team ever leading by double digits.

Five Bucks scored in double figures led by their All-Star duo of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo. On the other hand, the Nuggets also had five players in double figures but failed to provide enough support to their big guy, who had yet another MVP-caliber performance.

Jokic outduels Antetokounmpo

Despite the loss, Nikola Jokic put up yet another monster game with 35 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists on 13-of-26 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.

With each game, he continues to strengthen his MVP case. Not to mention, the remarakble eye-pleasing passing display he puts on.

With the other two scorers on the team in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. only combining for 19 points on 7-of-26 shooting from the field, Jokic had all the attention on him and yet didn't turn the ball over a single time.

If it wasn't for Giannis Antetokounmpo's second-half revival, where he scored 21 in 18 minutes, this MVP duel wouldn't have even been a conversation. At the final buzzer, the two-time reigning MVP finished with a more than respectable stat line of 30 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.

Khris Middleton's 'BIG' game

With Jrue Holiday a late scratch for this game due to the 'health and safety' protocols, Khris Middleton took on the ball-handling responsibilities and played the role to near-perfection.

He dished out a career-high 12 assists, three of which ended with dunks by Antetokounmpo, including a couple of highlight-reel alley-oops.

Playing a team-high 37 minutes, he also finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks while registering a game-high +17. He went 0-of-5 from beyond the arc but shot 9-of-11 from 2-point range and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.

Quietly, the 6'7" All-Star has been lighting up. Through 24 games, he's averaging 20.8 points (0.1 off career-high), 6.1 rebounds (0.1 off career-high), and 6.0 assists (career-high) on career-high shooting splits of .521/.448/.938.

He's on pace to become the first player since Larry Bird to average 20-6-6 while shooting 50-40-90.

Road ahead

Middleton's performance extends the team's win streak to five as Milwaukee continues their monster seven-game road trip to Phoenix in a couple of days.

On the other hand, the Nuggets, who have lost three straight and four of their last five, continue their homestand as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers in a couple of days.

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