The Nuggets have jumped back and forth across the .500 line this season like elementary school kids playing hopscotch.

And it's no secret the biggest culprit of such mediocrity has been an inability to handle teams that reside well below that mark. But surely the Milwaukee Bucks, a team primed to own more draft-lottery balls than any other this season, would provide a level of competition to which Denver couldn't sink.


Yes, Milwaukee produced the elixir for Denver's woes against sub-par competition, and the Nuggets awoke from their early doldrums to vanquish the Bucks 110-100 at the Pepsi Center.

The victory for the Nuggets (24-23) didn't come without some here-we-go-again moments. The Bucks (9-40) took a 7-0 lead to start the game. They led by one point at halftime and pushed the Nuggets deep into the fourth behind the smooth stroke of Khris Middleton (25 points) and the strong inside play of Larry Sanders, who notched a double-double with a career-high 25 points and 15 rebounds.

It took three late buckets from Wilson Chandler, including one that took a fortuitous bounce near the top of the backboard, for Nuggets fans to finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"We were upset," Nuggets guard Randy Foye said. "We wanted to beat them by 30, to be honest with you. We didn't do what we were supposed to do. We got the win, but we wanted to put it on them."

In short, Denver at times lacked the energy and concentration coach Brian Shaw knows will show up against teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers or Los Angeles Clippers, but has been absent in losses to the likes of the Utah Jazz, Charlotte Bobcats and Toronto Raptors.

This time, his team displayed the maturity it needed to erase an inferior foe.