DENVER (AP) -- Even short-handed, the Denver Nuggets finished their first back-to-back-to-back set of the lockout-compressed season on a high note.
Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 21 points, including a pair of free throws in the final seconds, and the Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 91-86 on Monday night to go 2-1 over the last three nights.
" The Bucks having two days off and us playing three in a row, we knew they had a little bit of an advantage, and they like to run like us,'' said Al Harrington, who had 17 points for the Nuggets. " But we always feel playing in Denver with the altitude, if we keep running in the fourth quarter we'll be in a good position. At the end of the day they got tired."
Ty Lawson chipped in with 16 points for the Nuggets, who were without Nene because of a bruised left heel. The Brazilian big man's status is day-to-day.
Stephen Jackson had 17 points and Carlos Delfino added 14 for the Bucks, who were denied in a bid for a third consecutive win - which would have matched their best streak from last season.
The Bucks also were without Mike Dunleavy, who did not make the trip because of an undisclosed illness.
" When you play three games in three nights, the third one is very tough, especially when you play back-to-back (to start the set) with the Lakers," Gallinari said.
Gallinari said when the going got tough, the Nuggets fed off the crowd.
" In the fourth quarter it's very easy to find extra energy,'' he said. " You have a tight game, you want to win, especially at home."
Jackson said the Nuggets didn't appear fazed by the string of games.
" They didn't look like they had three games in three nights,'' Jackson said. " That says a lot about how good of shape they're in, and they didn't have Nene, so you've got to credit them for that."
Delfino's 3-pointer gave the Bucks a 74-68 lead heading into the fourth quarter and Andrew Bogut's 10-foot hook shot put Milwaukee in front 81-76 with 8:31 left to play.
Gallinari, who also had 10 rebounds, then got the Nuggets going. He drove in for a layup and tipped in a shot as part of a 10-0 run that Harrington finished with successive dunks as Denver went in front 86-81 with 4:01 remaining.
Jackson made a 20-foot jumper to pull Milwaukee to 87-86 with 1:55 remaining. Both sides missed jump shots before Lawson shook loose on a fast break and put in a layup with 10.9 seconds left for a three-point Nuggets' lead.
Brandon Jennings, who had 12 points, missed a 3-point attempt from the top of the key with about 7 seconds to go. The rebound went to Gallinari, who was immediately fouled. He made both free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining to secure the win.
" We didn't play very well. We kind of threw the ball all over the place," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. We gave ourselves a chance but we missed layups and we missed open shots."
Milwaukee took a 44-37 lead after a basket by Luc Mbah a Moute. Denver came back to score 11 of the next 15 points, including tip-in by Gallinari as time expired to even the score at 48-all at halftime.
Notes: The Bucks failed to score at least 50 points in the first half for the first time in four games this season. ... The Nuggets second back-to-back-to-back set is in the first week of February. ... Gallinari's previous season high was 20 points, scored the night before in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers . ... Jennings scored 20 or more points in each of his first three games before ending the streak with his 12-point outing against the Nuggets. ... Denver has won eight of its last 10 meetings with the Bucks at the Pepsi Center.