Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists for his 14th triple-double of the season as the host Denver Nuggets spoiled Doc Rivers’ debut as Milwaukee’s head coach with a 113-107 win over the Bucks on Monday night.
Jokic has 119 career triple-doubles in the regular season (the fourth-highest total in NBA history), with six coming against Milwaukee.
The Bucks fired first-year coach Adrian Griffin on Jan. 23 and hired Rivers three days later. They went 2-1 under interim coach Joe Prunty before Rivers coached his first game Monday night.
Jamal Murray scored 35 points, Michael Porter Jr. had 13 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 12 in coach Michael Malone’s 400th career win with the Nuggets. Denver won for the fifth time in six games.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Brook Lopez scored 19, Damian Lillard finished with 18, Khris Middleton contributed 14 and Bobby Portis grabbed 12 rebounds for Milwaukee.
Up by seven points after three quarters, Denver opened the fourth with a dunk by DeAndre Jordan, but Portis hit two corner 3-pointers to cap a 13-2 run that gave Milwaukee an 88-86 lead.
Murray sank three free throws and Jokic converted a three-point play to put the Nuggets ahead 94-90.
Lopez hit from deep to cut the gap to one, but Murray made two free throws and Porter’s layup off a turnover made it 102-97 with 4:23 left.
Another turnover led to a Porter dunk, and Murray drained a mid-range jumper to stretch the lead to 106-97 with 3:17 to go.
Lopez and Antetokounmpo hit 3-pointers to pull the Bucks within three with 1:59 left, but Murray’s jumper and late free throws by Murray and Caldwell-Pope sealed the win for Denver.
Milwaukee was hot at the start, taking a 26-13 lead, but then didn’t score for the final four minutes of the opening quarter. The Nuggets took advantage to go ahead 28-26 on a Jordan three-point play to open the second period before the Bucks rallied to take a 50-44 lead. Murray scored Denver’s final 10 points of the second to send the game to halftime tied at 56-all.
Jokic picked it up in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and recording his triple-double when he assisted on Peyton Watson’s fastbreak layup late in the period, helping the Nuggets take an 82-75 lead into the fourth.