The Milwaukee Bucks’ motto this season has been “next man up.”

They took it to the extreme Friday night.

With a hodgepodge lineup and a thin bench one day after Brandon Knight, the team’s starting point guard and leading scorer, was sent to Phoenix in a stunning multi-team deal, the Bucks outlasted the Denver Nuggets, 89-81, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“We figured it out,” said center John Henson, “as we usually do.”

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty.

But it was on many levels a satisfying victory for Milwaukee (31-23), which has won nine of its last 10 and seven straight at home.

The Bucks improved to 12-0 when holding their opponents to fewer than 85 points and snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Nuggets, which dated to March 20, 2010.

“Honestly, there was a little bit of rust,” said center Zaza Pachulia. “We were missing a lot of good looks, easy shots.

“The good thing was we won the game tonight and moving forward, obviously we’re going to get back in the playing mode we were in before the all-star break.”

Of the three players the Bucks obtained Thursday — guards Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis and center Miles Plumlee — only Ennis played.

Carter-Williams, acquired from Philadelphia to replace Knight, was in uniform but on the bench with a sprained toe. He is expected to be out another week or so.

Complicating matters was the fact forward Ersan Ilysova was out due to illness. That left coach Jason Kidd with 10 available bodies, and he elected not to play Plumlee.

“When you’ve got ‘Z’ (Pachulia) and John going the way they did, I thought, ‘Let’s roll with those two tonight,'” Kidd said. “But as you know, I will play everybody.”

Ennis, a 20-year-old rookie, played a career-high 18 minutes after playing just 58 in eight games with the Suns. He finished with four points, two assists and a steal and committed three turnovers.

“It felt good to be able to play through some mistakes,” Ennis said. “My teammates were helping me a lot. A few times I got stuck on inbounds plays … – Click Here To Visit Article Source