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Westbrook, Rockets outlast Giannis, Bucks


EditorsNote: Corrects Bucks TO total to 22, not 23

Russell Westbrook sank four free throws inside the final 28.5 seconds and the Houston Rockets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

Westbrook scored a team-high 31 points while adding eight assists, and his clutch effort at the charity stripe enabled the Rockets (42-24) to outlast the Bucks (54-13) down a back-and-forth closing stretch. Danuel House Jr. converted two free throws with 14 seconds left as the Rockets finished 27 of 31 from the line.

Giannis Antetokounmpo totaled 36 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists for his 15th 30-15-5 game this season while Khris Middleton (27 points, 12 rebounds) and Brook Lopez (23 points, 12 rebounds) posted double-doubles for the Bucks, who posted a 65-36 rebounding advantage and limited the Rockets to 34.4 percent (21 of 61) shooting from behind the 3-point line -- yet lost the game. Milwaukee did commit 22 turnovers -- including a bad pass by Antetokounmpo that House picked off prior to his clinching free throws -- which the Rockets converted into 30 points in the victory.

James Harden offset a poor shooting performance (5 for 14) with seven rebounds, seven assists and a game-high six steals to complement his 24 points. House produced 16 points while Robert Covington chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Rockets.

Houston withstood the first salvo from the Bucks, rallying from a 13-point deficit at 24-11 following a Middleton 3 at the 5:14 mark of the opening period. The Rockets closed the period on a 21-5 run courtesy of 3s from Ben McLemore, who hit two during the run, Westbrook and Austin Rivers, whose 3 with 13 seconds left gave Houston a 32-29 lead entering the second.

The Rockets pushed that advantage to eight points at the intermission despite poor perimeter shooting, notably from Harden and P.J. Tucker, who shot a combined 1-for-14 from behind the arc in the first half. Westbrook scored 16 points prior to the break while Covington added 10 points, five boards and two steals to offset strong starts from Antetokounmpo and Middleton, who totaled 37 points in the first half with Antetokounmpo adding nine boards and five assists.

--Field Level Media

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