Defense leads to late-rally for the Rockets over the Bucks

Houston Rockets NEWS

The Houston Rockets led by one with 14 seconds left in the game when Danuel House Jr. intercepted a pass attempt from Giannis Antetokounmpo. House’s steal was Houston’s 15th on the night, as the Rockets took a 120-116 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Sunday night, inside The Arena in Orlando.

On a night where he struggled to find his touch shooting 3-for-12 from deep, James Harden led the Rockets with a season-high six steals on the night. He finished the game with 24 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.

“It takes heart and will,” said Harden. “Everybody says we are undersized, and they got a couple of offensive rebounds on us, but you just got to keep playing and keep fighting…It just takes good spirit. Good fighting. And making sure defensively we are communicating.”

The Rockets trailed the Bucks 112-104 with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Russell Westbrook connected on a mid-range jumper. Two possessions later, a corner triple by P.J. Tucker cut Milwaukee’s lead down to three.

After Robert Covington made it a one-point game off a fastbreak dunk, another mid-range jumper by Westbrook gave the Rockets a 113-112 lead — assisted by Harden following a steal from Antetokounmpo.

Westbrook, who had 30 points in Houston’s comeback victory over the Mavericks on Friday, scored a team-high 31 points shooting 47.6% from the field, in addition to eight assists and six rebounds in the win.

“It shows we are moving in the right direction,” Westbrook said after the win. “We know what we are capable of as a team, and we know what we can do. We came out and competed, and I am proud of that.”

In his second start replacing the injured Eric Gordon, Danuel House chipped in with 16 points, while Covington added 15 points on the night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with another staller performance. He led the team in scoring with 36 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in a losing effort. Antetokounmpo’s all-star teammate, Kris Middleton, finished the game with 27 points after starting a hot 6-for-6 from the field during the first quarter.

The Bucks trailed the Rockets 62-54 at the half, but a 36 point third quarter gave them a one-point lead entering the final period. Houston had no answer for Brook Lopez in the third, as the seven-foot big man scored 15 third-quarter points.

Following the win, the Rockets will return to the court on Tuesday to take on 30-38 Portland Trail Blazers. Tip-off is slated for 8 P.M. CT.

(Photo Credit: NBAE)