Harden propels Rockets over Bucks
Milwaukee, WI – James Harden reached the 20-point plateau for the 15th straight game, posting 29 points to go with seven assists, as the Houston Rockets used a strong second half to take a 115-101 decision over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
Harden shot 11-of-18 for the game and scored 16 in the second half, where the Rockets outscored the Bucks 68-43 to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit.
"The first half, they really had things going their way, especially that second quarter," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "We just battled back and, really, that third quarter was about as good as we can play."
Houston got solid efforts off the bench from Carlos Delfino, Patrick Patterson and Toney Douglas in capturing their eighth win in 10 games. Delfino knocked down 6-of-7 from long range en route to 22 points while Patterson and Douglas each netted 18 in the victory.
Brandon Jennings' 16 points led seven Milwaukee players in double-figures. Monta Ellis followed with 12, but shot a horrid 5-for-19 from the field.
"It just appeared that we lost focus coming out of the locker room," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles on his team blowing a double-digit first half lead. "We had a lot of trouble. That was as bad a collapse as I've ever seen. It happened so fast. It was turnover, turnover, turnover."
John Henson tallied 11 points and 15 boards, while Ersan Ilyasova and Beno Udrih scored 11 apiece in the Bucks' third straight setback.
Trailing 58-47 at the halfway point, the Rockets ripped off a 19-2 run to start the third.
Harden converted two three-point plays during the stretch and Douglas buried a pair of triples before capping the surge with a layup to give Houston a 66-60 edge at the 6:19 mark.
The Bucks knotted the game at 70-70 following back-to-back scores from Udrih and Ellis, but a Patterson triple near the end of the quarter sent the Rockets into the fourth with a 77-72 edge.
Mike Dunleavy buried a triple and scored a layup to keep the Bucks within three with 7:24 to go in the fourth, but the Rockets hot shooting from 3-point range buried Milwaukee soon after.
Houston scored its first 12 points from downtown during a 16-1 burst to grab a double-digit lead. Delfino and Patterson sparked the run with treys before Harden capped the 3-point surge with consecutive triples to create a 104-90 advantage just past the midway point in the fourth.
Milwaukee never came any closer than 12 the rest of the way.
After taking a 23-21 edge into the second, Henson, Ilyasova and Udrih helped power a 20-3 Bucks run early in the quarter to open up a 48-30 advantage.
Henson began the push with a hook shot and capped the surge with a three-point play, while Ilyasova and Udrih contributed eight and five points, respectively, during the stretch.
Delfino got the Rockets back into it, however, by knocking down three straight from beyond the arc. Harden then scored six of the Rockets' final eight points of the quarter to bring them within 58-47 at halftime.
Harden is averaging 29.5 points per game over his last 15 games ... The Rockets, who rank second in the league in 3-pointers made, converted 13-of-33 from long distance on Friday ... Both teams each a held a lead as large as 18 points during the contest ... The Bucks converted 25 Rockets turnovers into 28 points, while the Rockets scored 23 points off 19 Milwaukee turnovers. Milwaukee's Larry Sanders recorded four blocks in the game. He has registered at least one block in each of the last 18 games for the Bucks.