MILWAUKEE -- With his team mired in a losing streak and playing nothing close to the kind of defense he'd deem satisfactory, Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd juggled his starting lineup over the weekend, sending point guard Michael Carter-Williams and forward Jabari Parker to the bench.
The move resulted in a third consecutive loss, but Kidd was encouraged enough to try it again Monday and the results were obvious in a 92-74 victory over the Denver Nuggets at the Bradley Center.
"We got some great looks offensively that didn't down but the guys played great defensively," Kidd said. "And they carried over from last night; we were in a back-to-back situation but the guys played with a lot of energy and effort defensively."
Parker and Carter-Williams led the way, combining for 28 points off the bench on 11-of-22 shooting. But they really shined on the defensive end, where they posted ratings of plus-18 and plus-27, respectively, as the Bucks held Denver to 37.3 percent shooting, a 6-for-19 showing on 3-point attempts and forced 24 turnovers, which Milwaukee converted into 35 points.
"The fact of the matter is we're not a good enough offensive team to make up those points," Denver coach Mike Malone said. "We're one of the poorest shooting teams in the NBA. We're one of the poorer finishing teams in the NBA."
Carter-Williams, acquired last year from Phoenix in exchange for point guard Brandon Knight, added six rebounds, nine assists, three blocks and three steals in 30 minutes.
Those two, teamed up with forward John Henson, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds, allowed Milwaukee's second unit to push the pace.
"Those two coming off the bench, our tempo was a little faster," Kidd said. "Henson was able to get out and run and the guys did a really good job letting him touch it. He finished and made plays for his teammates."
Center Greg Monroe scored 18 points to lead the Bucks, who went 6-for-18 from long distance, shot 45.5 percent and turned the ball over only 13 times.
"I think once we lock down and we make shots on the other end, we make it easy for us," said Parker, who hit all four of his shots and a pair of free throws for 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 16 for the game. "We just have to keep locking in, playing good defense."
Forward Danillo Gallinari led Denver with 13 points while forward Kenneth Faried had 11 and forward Will Burton added 10 off the bench.
"We've got to find a way to wake up and win some games because we definitely cannot keep doing what we're doing and playing the way we play," Gallinari said. "We've got to want to win the game, we've got to put more effort."
Denver started out strong, shooting 50 percent of its shots and trailed by two going into halftime. But the Nuggets completely lost their shooting touch in the second half and fell behind by as many as 22 en route to their seventh consecutive loss.
"Just overall a very poor performance for us as a team," Malone said. "I start with myself. You lose seven games in a row, I have to do a much better job. It's on me as a head coach to get more out of this team. So, that's on me. And I have to do a better job moving forward because we were six and five at one point. Seems like ages ago. But we've gotten far, far from that. I just don't know how much it hurts for those guys in that locker room. I know some guys care. Some guys hate to lose. I think other guys like to win. And there's a big difference."
NOTES: Bucks G Greivis Vasquez missed his second consecutive game due to a sore right ankle. In 16 games off the bench this season, Vasquez is averaging 7.1 points on 34.8 percent shooting and is 14-for-54 (25.9 percent) on 3-point attempts. ... Denver SG Gary Harris sat out a second game in a row. Harris sustained a concussion Friday in the Nuggets' loss to San Antonio. ... Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd used the same lineup for a second consecutive game, which kept F Jabari Parker and PG Michael Carter-Williams on the bench with Gs O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless getting starts. ... Nuggets F Kenneth Faried started and scored 14 points Saturday in his first game back after missing three with an ankle injury. However, he came off the bench Monday night in Milwaukee as coach Mike Malone tries to gradually increase Faried's minutes and workload.