On Monday night, Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Bucks 113-107 at Ball Arena, spoiling Rivers' head coaching debut. The Nuggets won with Jokić's triple-double (25 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists) and Jamal Murray's 35 points.
Last Monday, the Bucks fired Adrian Griffin after 43 games as head coach. Griffin succeeded Mike Budenholzer, who was dismissed after the Bucks were eliminated in the first round last spring. After 15 seasons as an assistant and nearly a decade as a player, Griffin became a head coach for the first time. He was dismissed with the Bucks 30-13, second in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks promptly went to Rivers, who had been an ESPN commentator since the Philadelphia 76ers dismissed him last offseason. Rivers has 24 seasons of head-coaching experience and earned a title with the Celtics in 2008. Rivers claimed the Bucks are better off than most first-year coaches.
The Bucks started Rivers' debut well. They started Monday night with a 17-6 run on 7-of-10 shooting. The Nuggets closed the gap to 56-56 at halftime. Murray scored 21 points in the first half for the Nuggets on 9-of-15 shooting.
The Nuggets led by seven heading into the fourth quarter after holding the Bucks to 19 points in the third. At that moment, Jokić had a triple-double.
Two Bobby Portis 3-pointers capped a 13-4 Bucks outburst to start the fourth quarter. After nine missed shots, Portis made two behind-the-arc baskets. It wasn't enough for the Bucks, even though Giannis Antetokounmpo trimmed it to three late. Murray scored 14 fourth-quarter points to help the Nuggets win by six.
Jokić hit 10-of-25 from the field and 1-of-6 from the 3-point line. Michael Porter Jr. scored 13 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 10. The Nuggets hit 4-of-18 from 3-point range. The win was Michael Malone's 400th with the Nuggets.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 29 points and 12 rebounds. Brook Lopez had 19 points and Damian Lillard 18 with five assists. The Bucks, who have lost only two of their last six, play the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday. After their five-game road trip, Rivers will make his Bucks home debut on Feb. 8 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Fiserv Forum.
STAY TURNED FOR DEVELOPMENT