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Rockets sink Buck(et)s, 101-95

Harden, Howard, and Lin all took turns pummeling a banged up Milwaukee team on the wrong side of the playoffs and the right side of the lottery. Despite keeping within range for most of the game, the Bucks couldn't get over the hump on their home floor

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the contest on a 7-0 run, Houston was able to keep a beat up and reeling Bucks squad at arm's length throughout most of the game.  Houston secured certain victory following an emphatic Howard dunk during the final minutes, extending Dwight Howard's record against Milwaukee to 17-1 over his career.

Dwight had one of his more complete performances of the season, going off for 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists, all team highs.  After Larry Sanders left the game following an inadvertent James Harden elbow to the face, Zaza Pachulia didn't stand a chance over the course of three more quarters against the Dwight.

Harden was able to accrue just below his normal line, 21 points, 2 boards, and 3 assists to go along with 4 steals, many of which .   James also had a few nice looking highlight dunks and

Jeremy Lin's performance was integral to sustaining our quick tempo and keeping our offense from staying stagnant.  His 18 bench points on pretty efficient shooting was a wonderful sight to see.

Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones both struggled to make their presence felt on the stat sheet this evening.  Jones had a very uncharacteristically poor game, scoring only 2 points on 4 shots in 23 minutes.  He added 5 rebounds but snagged most of those in the first quarter before what seemed to be a bit of a disappearing act among the many big, lanky guys stuffed in the Bucks rotation.  Chandler's performance was more balanced with 8 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals, but he, too, had trouble getting the ball through the net consistently tonight.

If the Rockets were going to lose this game, it was going to be because of the performances of both Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters, who were #1 and #2 in field goals made for Milwaukee to the surprise of no one who watched them both sink shot after shot.  They, along with some late game Khris Middleton additions, kept the Bucks within striking distance before ultimately coming short at home.

Another area that gave the Bucks hope was offensive rebounding.

They led the offensive rebounding category 7-1 and 2nd chance points category 11-2 after the first period.  This got them 8 extra possessions in the first quarter which allowed them to shoot 16% worse than us in the quarter and still end up down by only a single possession.

There were several points where Milwaukee was able to whittle the lead down to a mere possession, but every time Houston was able to string together a couple of plays to restore their previous multi-possession lead.

Beverley was the team's initial spark plug on offense.  Pat of all people led the team in scoring with 11, going 3 for 3 from downtown and 4 of 6 overall.  Add to that a couple of boards, an assist, and a blocked shot and you would normally come away with a full Pat Beverley game; instead, we have only the first period.

In the second quarter, Lin and Howard took over the offense, scoring 17 of the teams 27 points on 63% shooting.  The rest of the team shot 36% from the field.

After carrying an 11 point lead into halftime, the second half consisted of the one-two offensive combination Houston counts on with Harden turning it on in the 3rd quarter, where he played all 12 minutes and scored 10 points to lead all Rockets.  In the 4th quarter, Howard took over, leading the team with 11 points on 80% shooting and a couple of strong, game clinching rebounds to finish the game.  He hit free throws when he needed to, going 5 for 7 from the stripe.

During crunch time in the 4th quarter, it appeared for a brief moment as if the Rockets were poised for a collapse as Lin got under Khris Middleton on a three point shot, giving the ability to cut a six point lead in half and after a missed fade away two pointer from Lin on the other end, Milwaukee found itself with a 3 point deficit with just 21 seconds remaining.

After a high screen with Knight running off of Pachulia, a Buck's floater rimmed out and was sucked up by Dwight's massive mandibles to secure the win.

The Bucks have yet to cross the 10 win barrier and were 1-17 against western conference opponents coming into tonight.  Although their roster has several intriguing pieces, their rotations are a total mess because of injuries and inconsistent play and they cannot string together enough quarters of solid basketball to make much noise other than a whimper.

It is hard to be too unhappy about a win like this.  Our stars did their jobs and although I would like to see bigger performances from Chandler and Terrence, their excellence was not entirely necessary as the Rockets were able to make the plays they needed to make in order to come out on top.

Check out more over at Brew Hoop