Monta Ellis put the Milwaukee Bucks on the verge of victory with a spectacular play late in Monday night's home finale against the Denver Nuggets.

But again the Bucks could not finish the job, falling to the Nuggets when Denver point guard Ty Lawson hit an 11-foot jumper with 9.3 seconds left to provide the decisive points in a 112-111 victory.

The Bucks had no timeouts left but quickly pushed the ball up the court and wound up with an open three-point look for J.J. Redick. But his shot bounced out, and Milwaukee (37-44) lost its fifth straight as it continued to slump heading to its first-round playoff matchup against Miami.

Ellis had given the Bucks the lead with 14.2 seconds left when he sank a difficult three-pointer from the right wing and was fouled by Nuggets guard Evan Fournier. Ellis made the free throw for a four-point play and a 111-110 lead.

"He's had a great season and without him, I don't know where we'd be," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said.

Ellis missed the morning shootaround due to an intestinal illness but scored 38 points, one off his season high, and knocked down 6 three-pointers in 11 tries. He drilled 4 threes and had 19 points in the fourth quarter.

"No matter what's going on with me, at 7 o'clock or 7:30 I'm always going to be ready to play basketball," Ellis said. "I deal with everything afterward.

"We really needed a win. Right now is not the time to throw a pity party or sit out or anything.

"We've got to do more. We've got to get better and we've got to do it now."

Denver (56-25) needed the victory to clinch home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and had to fight hard to get it.

Lawson finished with 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and Wilson Chandler added 21 points. JaVale McGee came off the bench to grab a game-high 17 rebounds.