MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 15 points, John Henson added 14 and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Denver Nuggets 89-81 on Friday night in their first game since tweaking their roster at the NBA trade deadline.
The athletic Henson had four buckets during a 20-7 run over the last 7 minutes of the third quarter to help put Milwaukee ahead for good after trailing the entire first half.
Denver stayed within a possession or two for much of the fourth quarter, but went 1 of 5 from the field with a turnover over the last 3:26.
Wilson Chandler led Denver with 19 points.
Michael Carter-Williams, who was acquired from Philadelphia as part of a three-team deal that sent Brandon Knight to Phoenix, did not play because of a sprained right big toe.
They didn’t need Carter-Williams when the Nuggets went cold in the third quarter. After going 5 of 6 from the field to start the period, Denver went on a 5-of-24 spurt that helped contribute to Milwaukee’s second-half surge.
Henson, a 6-foot-11 forward with a long wingspan, led the way in the paint and energized the team with a reverse and two dunks during the run.
Denver drew within 74-71 with 9:35 left in the game on Danilo Gallinari’s 3 from the corner. But the Bucks defense came up with stops and forced turnovers with less than 2 minutes left, and Middleton hit an open 3 from the corner with 1:24 left to give the Bucks a 10-point lead.
Nuggets: Bucks coach Jason Kidd ended up ditching Nuggets counterpart Brian Shaw for dinner when Denver got into town on Thursday night. Some assistant coaches from both squads were also supposed to join them. “But Jason’s kids are in town and he’s spending some time with his family so he was the only one who didn’t come to dinner last night,” Shaw said. Both coaches are former NBA guards. “I’m happy for him and what he’s doing here in Milwaukee,” Shaw said. “Nobody expected the team to be where they are at this point.” … Guard Ty Lawson was a healthy scratch. Shaw said the team’s leading scorer was being “disciplined internally” after missing practice this week.
Bucks: Milwaukee has taken on a Syracuse feel in the backcourt after dealing for former Orange point guards Carter-Williams and Ennis at this week’s trade deadline. Kidd said he reached out to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to ask specifically about Ennis, a rookie. “I like his basketball IQ,” Kidd said about Ennis, who scored four points in 19 minutes off the bench. … The Bucks won their fourth straight game.
Nuggets: At Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Bucks: Hosts Atlanta on Sunday.