Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a monster performance while Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis Jr. played support roles as the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the host Houston Rockets 123-114 Friday, snapping the Rockets’ seven-game winning streak.
Antetokounmpo posted 41 points and 17 rebounds and added five assists, three steals and two blocked shots. His ability to get downhill caused the Rockets fits throughout and his fingerprints were all over the Bucks’ closing run to victory.
Antetokounmpo nailed a 3-pointer, assisted on a Portis corner 3, and launched a ferocious dunk with 47.6 seconds left that pushed the lead to 119-112.
Middleton added 21 points and eight boards, including a second-chance basket and a 3-pointer with Antetokounmpo taking a quick breather in the fourth. Portis also had 21 points and eight boards.
The Rockets did not go quietly. Garrison Mathews scored a team-high 23 points with a career-high six 3-pointers, while Christian Wood and Armoni Brooks chipped in 21 points apiece, with Wood also grabbing 13 rebounds. Rookie Alperen Sengun added a career-high 15 points.
Portis scored six points including a corner 3 during a 10-3 spurt that enabled the Bucks to erase a seven-point halftime deficit.
But for every moment that Milwaukee seemed on the brink of snatching momentum, the Rockets mustered a reply, and when Houston closed the third quarter with 3-pointers from Brooks and Josh Christopher, it led 95-90 entering the fourth period.
Antetokounmpo was a terror early, scoring 10 first-quarter points on 5-of-7 shooting to lead a Milwaukee offense that bullied the Rockets inside. The Bucks tallied 18 points in the paint in the period and shot 10 of 12 inside the arc yet led by only three points entering the second period.
That modest margin enabled the Rockets to claw ahead via a 17-4 run that featured three Mathews 3-pointers, six points from Sengun and a steal and transition dunk by David Nwaba.
Suddenly the Rockets led 46-38 and Milwaukee needed Middleton to get hot in order to maintain contact. He obliged with 10 points in the second quarter including a trio of 3-pointers.
Yet, despite Antetokounmpo and Middleton combining for 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting before the break, Houston led 65-58 following a corner 3-pointer by Brooks. It came after Eric Gordon escaped a double team and delivered a nifty cross-court pass to Brooks’ shooting pocket.
–Field Level Media