The Nuggets, with their starting forwards nursing injuries, end a season-high eight-game road trip Sunday against the Bucks.
Denver (37-18) is 5-2 on a trip that was interrupted by last weekend’s All-Star break. The Nuggets, though, had a three-game winning streak end with a 116-99 loss to Chicago on Friday night, and two of their top players were clearly hobbled.
Anthony, who was held to 12 points on 5-for-18 shooting, said he was bothered by a bruised left knee suffered Feb. 18 at Philadelphia. Martin, meanwhile, didn’t play in the second half due to back spasms.
Their status for this contest is uncertain, but Denver may want to play it safe with matchups against Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers looming next week.
“Carmelo is hurt, there’s no doubt that he does not have much zip,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.
Martin played 6 minutes in the second quarter after hurting his back in the first, finishing with six points and four rebounds.
Anthony is averaging 21.6 points and Martin 12.7. They’re two of six players averaging at least 10 points for Denver.
Against Milwaukee on Nov. 18, the Nuggets had seven players reach double figures in a 114-105 win.
Kleiza had gone 0-for-16 from 3-point range since Feb. 4, but went 2-for-3 from long range versus the Bulls and finished with 16 points. He scored a total of 13 points in his previous four contests.
Milwaukee big man Charlie Villanueva could match up with Kleiza at times in this contest after missing the teams’ last meeting due to a hamstring injury.
Villanueva had 26 points before being ejected in the Bucks’ 111-103 loss to Cleveland on Friday night, giving Milwaukee (27-31) consecutive home defeats for the first time this season. He was ejected after a confrontation with Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve still got some young guys that are learning the intensity and mental focus you have to have at all times if you want to beat a good club, and we’re not there yet,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said.
Even if Milwaukee had Villanueva down the stretch, they would have had a tough time overcoming LeBron James’ 55-point performance. It was the most points ever scored by a Bucks opponent in Milwaukee.
Former Nuggets guard Allen Iverson had the previous high, scoring 54 points for Philadelphia on Dec. 18, 2004.
A bright spot for Milwaukee was the return of starting point guard Luke Ridnour, who missed five games with a fractured right thumb. He had seven points and six assists in 33 minutes.
“I’m just trying to help the team win and whatever happens, happens,” Ridnour said. “I’m just trying to get better and … get my legs back and get used to playing again.”