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Antetokounmpo scores 27 to lead Bucks over Rockets 116-109

HOUSTON (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't going to join in on the debate about whether he should be an early favorite for MVP after he led the Milwaukee Bucks to a victory over the Houston Rockets and last year's MVP James Harden on Wednesday night.

The rising young star was just happy his team was leaving Houston with a win.

''All I care about is winning,'' Antetokounmpo said. ''I know by winning and doing whatever it takes to help your teammates and leaving everything out on the floor everything will take care of itself, the titles and all that.''

Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and grabbed a season-high 21 rebounds to help the Bucks withstand a 42-point performance from Harden in a 116-109 win.

In this matchup of early front-runners for MVP, Harden and his teammates were done in by a shooting slump late in the third quarter that spilled into the fourth and left them down by 15 points.

''We just got stagnant and defensively I think we allowed 38 points in that quarter - way too many - especially at home and so there you go,'' Harden said. ''We couldn't get out in transition. We couldn't get to where we want to go because we couldn't get any stops.''

Milwaukee held a 13-point lead with about five minutes left before Houston used an 8-0 run, started by two 3-pointers from Harden, to cut the lead to 107-102. The Bucks got a layup from Eric Bledsoe before Harden scored the next four points to get Houston within 109-106 with 2 1/2 minutes left.

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws to push Milwaukee's lead to four points with about 90 seconds left. Harden missed his third straight 3-pointer before Antetokounmpo added a layup on the other end to make it 112-106 with 40 seconds remaining.

Harden missed another 3 seconds later and the Bucks added four free throws down the stretch to secure the their seventh victory in eight games.

It was Harden's sixth 40-point outing in the last eight games and he has scored 30 or more points in 14 straight games, which is the longest streak since Tracy McGrady did it in 2003. He shot 6 of 16 on 3-pointers to give him at least five in the last 11 games.

Houston center Clint Capela struggled, making just 4 of 16 shots a game after scoring a career-high 31 points in a win over the Nuggets on Monday. He finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Coach Mike D'Antoni credited Milwaukee's big defensive duo of Brook Lopez and Antetokounmpo for making things tough on Capela.

''They're imposing at the rim,'' D'Antoni said. ''They did a good job and it costs us some turnovers, and we just weren't real sharp and we tried to force some things up underneath the basket.''

The Bucks scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to stretch a run they started in the third quarter to 15-0 and make it 98-83 with about 10 minutes left.

The Rockets got their first field goal since the 4:32 mark of the third quarter when P.J. Tucker made a 3-pointer a few seconds after that.

Houston led by 6 at halftime after 23 points by Harden, but the Bucks opened the third quarter with an 11-3 run to take a 65-63 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Milwaukee got four points from Malcolm Brogdon and three from Antetokounmpo in that stretch.

The Rockets got five quick points from Gerald Green to start a 7-0 run later in the third that put them up 75-70.

The Bucks were down by 7 later in the quarter before using a 17-1 spurt to end the quarter and take a 92-83 lead into the fourth. That run included a 9-0 run in the last 1:19 of the quarter highlighted by a tip-in at the buzzer by Antetokounmpo.

TIP-INS

Bucks: D.J. Wilson missed his second straight game with a bruised hip. ... Brogdon finished with 24 points. ... Khris Middleton added 15 points.

Rockets: Chris Paul missed his ninth game in a row with a strained left hamstring. ... Eric Gordon missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right knee. ... Houston shot 18 of 48 on 3-pointers.

BOUNCE PASS?

A weird play came in the third quarter when Antetokounmpo threw a pass across the lane and it bounced off Harden's face and back at Antetokounmpo , who dished it to Ersan Ilyasova for a 3. Harden fell slowly to the court after he was hit but got up quickly and seemed to be OK.

Antetokounmpo felt bad that he hit Harden in the face and said he apologized.

''It was crazy because it was so hard for the ball to be able to bounce from one side of the floor to the other side of the floor that's how you know how hard the pass was,'' he said. ''It was an accident, but I'm so happy it bounced back to me.''

Harden said he never saw it coming.

''I didn't even know what happened,'' Harden said. ''I think the ball somehow came back into his hands ... wish I would have seen it.''

UP NEXT

Bucks: Visit Washington on Friday night.

Rockets: Host Cavaliers on Friday night.

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Key Players
G. Antetokounmpo
34 PF
J. Harden
13 SG
37.2 Min. Per Game 37.2
33.7 Pts. Per Game 33.7
8.7 Ast. Per Game 8.7
5.9 Reb. Per Game 5.9
58.1 Field Goal % 43.6
58.2 Three Point % 43.5
69.9 Free Throw % 85.3
  Defensive rebound by Malcolm Brogdon 0:00
  P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:03
  Gerald Green missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:09
+ 1 Malcolm Brogdon made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:11
+ 1 Malcolm Brogdon made 1st of 2 free throws 0:11
  Personal foul on Gerald Green 0:11
+ 1 Clint Capela made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:17
+ 1 Clint Capela made 1st of 2 free throws 0:17
  Shooting foul on Brook Lopez 0:17
+ 1 Giannis Antetokounmpo made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:25
+ 1 Giannis Antetokounmpo made 1st of 2 free throws 0:25
Team Stats
Points 116 109
Field Goals 44-91 (48.4%) 32-85 (37.6%)
3-Pointers 8-27 (29.6%) 18-48 (37.5%)
Free Throws 20-24 (83.3%) 27-32 (84.4%)
Total Rebounds 57 52
Offensive 10 14
Defensive 39 32
Team 8 6
Assists 26 19
Steals 11 4
Blocks 5 7
Turnovers 13 18
Fouls 25 18
Technicals 0 0
27 PTS, 21 REB, 5 AST
42 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST
1234T
away team logo Bucks 29-11 26283824116
home team logo Rockets 23-17 29312326109
Team Stats
away team logo Bucks 29-11 117.4 PPG 49.4 RPG 26.0 APG
home team logo Rockets 23-17 113.2 PPG 41.5 RPG 21.1 APG
Key Players
G. Antetokounmpo PF 27.5 PPG 12.7 RPG 6.0 APG 58.0 FG%
J. Harden SG 36.1 PPG 6.5 RPG 7.7 APG 43.6 FG%
Top Scorers
G. Antetokounmpo PF 27 PTS 21 REB 5 AST
J. Harden SG 42 PTS 11 REB 6 AST
48.4 FG% 37.6
29.6 3PT FG% 37.5
83.3 FT% 84.4
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Antetokounmpo 27 21 5 8/16 0/1 11/14 2 36 1 0 3 4 17 +14 56
M. Brogdon 24 5 3 9/12 0/1 6/6 3 35 1 0 3 0 5 +20 33
K. Middleton 15 3 4 5/14 2/5 3/4 3 34 3 0 0 0 3 -3 29
E. Bledsoe 10 4 5 5/11 0/3 0/0 5 28 2 1 4 1 3 +7 23
B. Lopez 7 3 1 3/7 1/4 0/0 5 33 2 4 2 0 3 +6 16
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Antetokounmpo 27 21 5 8/16 0/1 11/14 2 36 1 0 3 4 17 +14 56
M. Brogdon 24 5 3 9/12 0/1 6/6 3 35 1 0 3 0 5 +20 33
K. Middleton 15 3 4 5/14 2/5 3/4 3 34 3 0 0 0 3 -3 29
E. Bledsoe 10 4 5 5/11 0/3 0/0 5 28 2 1 4 1 3 +7 23
B. Lopez 7 3 1 3/7 1/4 0/0 5 33 2 4 2 0 3 +6 16
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
S. Brown 13 3 4 5/12 3/8 0/0 2 21 1 0 0 1 2 -2 25
E. Ilyasova 10 7 0 4/8 2/2 0/0 4 16 0 0 1 2 5 0 16
G. Hill 6 2 3 3/7 0/2 0/0 1 23 1 0 0 1 1 -2 15
T. Snell 4 0 1 2/3 0/1 0/0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 -3 6
T. Maker 0 1 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 -2 1
J. Smith - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Connaughton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Wood - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. DiVincenzo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Wilson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Duval - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Morris - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 116 49 26 44/91 8/27 20/24 25 234 11 5 13 10 39 +35 220
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Harden 42 11 6 13/30 6/16 10/11 4 40 2 1 9 1 10 +2 59
C. Capela 18 13 1 4/16 0/0 10/12 2 35 0 2 3 7 6 -2 32
A. Rivers 13 4 2 4/8 3/7 2/2 5 39 0 1 1 1 3 -15 21
P. Tucker 8 8 7 2/9 2/7 2/4 4 43 1 1 2 3 5 -12 30
D. House Jr. 3 5 1 1/5 1/4 0/0 2 25 0 2 1 1 4 -13 11
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Harden 42 11 6 13/30 6/16 10/11 4 40 2 1 9 1 10 +2 59
C. Capela 18 13 1 4/16 0/0 10/12 2 35 0 2 3 7 6 -2 32
A. Rivers 13 4 2 4/8 3/7 2/2 5 39 0 1 1 1 3 -15 21
P. Tucker 8 8 7 2/9 2/7 2/4 4 43 1 1 2 3 5 -12 30
D. House Jr. 3 5 1 1/5 1/4 0/0 2 25 0 2 1 1 4 -13 11
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Green 16 2 1 5/13 3/10 3/3 1 32 1 0 2 1 1 +1 19
B. Knight 3 1 0 1/2 1/2 0/0 0 7 0 0 0 0 1 -9 4
J. Ennis III 3 1 0 1/1 1/1 0/0 0 10 0 0 0 0 1 +1 4
G. Clark 3 1 1 1/1 1/1 0/0 0 5 0 0 0 0 1 +12 6
E. Gordon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
V. Edwards - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Chriss - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Hartenstein - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Nene - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Anthony - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Paul - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 109 46 19 32/85 18/48 27/32 18 236 4 7 18 14 32 -35 186