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Rockets fall to East leading Bucks despite 42 from James Harden

A 15-point third quarter advantage powered the Bucks and the Greek Freak over a break-ready Rockets team.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets
It was a disappointing night for Houston in a loss to the Bucks.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Third quarter shakes from Rockets teams past resurfaced in a defeat the Houston Rockets suffered at home to the Milwaukee Bucks 116-109. A six point halftime lead wilted for Houston under the Bucks defense and a staggering offense which may signal the end of a huge three week rush for James Harden and crew.

Milwaukee is tops in the Eastern Conference and the Greek Freak put forward a very efficient counterargument to the Harden MVP campaign. Despite no jaw dropping moments Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped an almost understated 27 points and 21 rebounds on just 8-16 shooting.

Houston was powered by James Harden’s 42 points and 11 rebounds, but Milwaukee’s size often crowded The Beard’s favorite passing lanes and forced 9 turnovers from Mr Do-It-All. It was a quintessential Beard game with several fouls drawn on three point shots and a 10-11 performance from the free throw line certain to induce groans from his critics.

This performance clawed The Beard closer to Kobe Bryant’s 30+ point streak:

It wasn’t enough however. Houston needed one more Rocket to step up and contribute in the third quarter, but it wasn’t in the cards. The final four minutes of the quarter featured clanked threes and no made field goals for the home team. Milwaukee capitalized with a 17-1 advantage over that stretch and posted a 15 point advantage in the quarter which withstood until the end of the game.

In the fourth Houston pulled the game to within five points with two minutes remaining, but Milwaukee didn’t let up on the offensive end and all the Rockets shooters including Harden looked gassed as the threes hit nothing but iron.

Takeaways and Notes:

  • Austin Rivers appeared to hurt his shooting hand in the third quarter. Fans will need to watch Twitter for any news.
  • Clint Capela had an off night on offense. He scored 18 points ON 10 OF 12 FREE THROW SHOOTING. He’s made huge progress from the charity stripe this season, but he shot 4-16 from the field tonight. It included lots of missed bunnies and put back opportunities. On the defensive end the Bucks isolated him when given the chance.
  • Coach Mike D’Antoni went with a six man rotation tonight. James Ennis logged 11 minutes, but I count 12 as the cut off. Ennis attempted and made a single field goal. It was a three, of course.
  • Gary Clark showed up for five minutes in the second quarter and Rockets Twitter got excited about a return to the rotation. It didn’t happen and he stayed on the bench the rest of the game. He did post a silly +12 in his five minutes.
  • Danuel House won’t need a post game ice bath after shooting 1-5 in 25 minutes. After three games of double digit scoring he’s now posted three straight games of single digit scoring.
  • Coach Budenholzer tried shading Harden to the right. It didn’t matter:

Houston is back at it on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.