Reigning MVP rallys with a triple-double
The last three NBA MVPs took the court in Houston. The reigning NBA MVP left Houston with a win.
The Milwaukee Bucks surged in the second half, with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo
leading the way in overcoming a 16-point deficit, to take notch its first win of the season over the Houston Rockets.
The two prior NBA MVPs, Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook, set the tone offensively in their first game together, taking a 66-50 lead going into halftime.
The Bucks kept chipping away at the deficit, with Antetokounmpo taking over, scoring 20 of his 30 points in the second half, finishing with a triple-double, adding 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
“At no moment of the game did we feel like we gave up,” Antetokounmpo said. “We played even harder, defended harder, executed harder.
The Rockets lead by nine going into the fourth, but the Bucks carried their strong third quarter momentum and narrowed the gap quickly.
“I think we were kind of lackadaisical starting the fourth, but it’s OK,” Westbrook said. “It’s good. It’s a great game to be able to figure out what we need to do moving forward.”
Antetokounmpo battled foul trouble throughout the game, and with a 101-95 lead with 5:18 left in the game, Antetokounmpo fouled Rockets center Clint Capela to get his sixth.
“I was pissed,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, a stupid sixth foul I got under Clint Capela, and I couldn’t avoid it.”
Following Antetokounmpo fouling out, the Rockets cut the deficit to one, but Bucks big men Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova key shots down the stretch to pull away with the win.
Lopez finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Wesley Matthews added 14 in the Bucks win.
The highly-anticipated new pairing of Harden and Westbrook scored 19 and 24 points respectively, with Harden adding 14 assists and Westbrook pulling down 16 rebounds.
It was a strong outing in Westbrook’s Rockets debut.
“Everybody saw it tonight,” Harden said. “(Westbrook) is a different type of breed on that court.”
The Bucks defense held Harden, last season’s leading scorer, to four second half points.
“I got to do a better job of helping him out, especially when teams are guarding him like that,” Westbrook said.
The Bucks will open up home this Saturday against the Miami Heat. The Rockets continue its homestand with a Saturday matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans.