Middleton, Antetokounmpo lead Bucks past Nuggets 125-112

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, moves to the rim as Denver Nuggets forward JaMychal Green defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER – Khris Middleton found a not-so-new way to pick up easy assist after easy assist — just lob the ball toward the rim.

From there, high-soaring Giannis Antetokounmpo will do the rest.

Middleton had 29 points and a career-high 12 assists, Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and the Milwaukee Bucks won their fifth straight game by beating the Denver Nuggets 125-112 on Monday night.

“He's a threat out there,” Antetokounmpo said of Middleton's passing and scoring ability. “He's going to find you.”

Usually a forward, Middleton had the ball in his hands even more often with point guard Jrue Holiday out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The Bucks found out earlier in the day that Holiday wouldn't be available.

They adjusted on the fly.

“You always have to be prepared and thinking about what you can do if somebody’s not able to go,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer explained. “Just proud of the guys.”

Middleton’s 12th assist was a thing of beauty — a pinpoint pass to Antetokounmpo for a dunk with 1:39 remaining to give the Bucks a 120-110 lead. He had a similar play earlier in the fourth.