DENVER (AP) -Carmelo Anthony had another early departure and once again the Denver Nuggets took it in stride.
Nene scored 24 points and the Nuggets weathered the third-quarter ejection of Anthony to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 105-94 Wednesday night for their season-best fifth consecutive win.
In a 138-133 victory Sunday night over Phoenix, Anthony played just 3 minutes before being forced to the bench for the rest of the game by flu symptoms.
J.R. Smith had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Chauncey Billups added 16 points for the Nuggets, who defeated the only team to sweep the season series from them last year. Milwaukee went 2-0 against Denver in 2009-10.
John Salmons scored 21 points for the Bucks. Corey Maggette added 17 points and Larry Sanders and Brandon Jennings had 14 apiece. Sanders also had 10 rebounds and eight blocks, matching Orlando center Dwight Howard for the NBA season high.
Anthony had 14 points when he was tossed with 2:40 remaining in the third for arguing with officials over a non-call, drawing two quick technical fouls.
``We were in a good place when Melo left and I thought we kept it up and sustained it and finished off the game for the first time in a while in the fourth quarter,' Nuggets coach George Karl said.
Smith said everyone chipped in to help make up for the absence of Anthony, just like in the Phoenix game Sunday, when the Denver bench scored a season-high 70 points.
``We moved the ball,' Smith said. ``Chauncey did a great job of getting to the free throw line and Nene did a huge job in the middle.'
Down by five at the break, the Nuggets regained the lead for the first time since early in the first period when Nene completed a three-point play to put Denver up 62-61 with 5:31 remaining in the third quarter.
The Nuggets scored the next six points on a 3-pointer by Arron Afflalo and three free throws by Billups, including one for a technical foul call on Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles.
Milwaukee had closed to 68-65 when Anthony drove to the basket for a layup attempt and Sanders blocked the shot against the backboard. Anthony complained immediately to the official closest to him, Eric Dalen, that there should have been a goaltending call.
When he persisted, Anthony was hit with the first technical.
During a television timeout after that initial sequence, Anthony renewed his complaint with another official, Jason Phillips, and was quickly hit with a second technical, leading to his automatic expulsion. Anthony was escorted off the floor.
The Nuggets nevertheless maintained command, taking a 76-71 lead into the fourth quarter.
``They had their best player out with Melo getting thrown out of the game,' Maggette said. ``We really should have capitalized on it but we didn't. We just didn't do the things we needed to do while they continued to execute.'
Denver stretched its lead with a 7-0 burst that included a pair of free throws and a basket by Al Harrington, who had 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter. After Billups hit a 3-pointer with 7:39 left, Denver had a 90-79 cushion.
``We moved the ball really well, we stepped into our shots, we knocked them down (in the first half),' Skiles said. ``We just got a little stagnant in the third quarter and we had a hard time getting out of it.'
Milwaukee led by as many as 11 in the second quarter, going in front 36-25 on Sanders' 16-foot jumper with 7:18 left in the period. The Nuggets didn't let the Bucks get any further in front, chipping away at the lead over the final 5 minutes of the first half to pull to 50-45.
NOTES: Bucks F Drew Gooden was back in action after being held out of the previous game because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. ... Milwaukee was missing center Andrew Bogut (neck) and forward Carlos Delfino (neck), who did not make the trip. ... Howard blocked eight shots against Minnesota on Nov. 3. ... The Nuggets had lost three straight against Milwaukee, their longest active losing streak against one team.
Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.