The Houston Rockets continue to roll at home with a win against the Milwaukee Bucks

The Houston Rockets continue to roll at home with a win against the Milwaukee Bucks

With Sunday’s game on the line, the Rockets won the only way this game could be won, the way they’ve gotten most of their wins this season.

The defense that had kept the Bucks in check all night shut them down until the Rockets rallied from a nine-point deficit to beat the Bucks, 97-92, the Rockets’ fourth straight home win.

The Bucks went just 3-for-17 in the fourth quarter with eight turnovers and the Rockets closed out the win in the final minutes, turning from perhaps their worst defensive game of the season to their best.

With 3:11 left, Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. missed a 10-footer to tie. The Bucks had him out from the 3-point line, as the Rockets had to all night, but he couldn’t convert off the dribble.

The Rockets had cut the Bucks’ lead to one after a Jalen Green 3-pointer and a driving slam before Giannis Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws.

When Kevin Porter Jr. knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:45 left, the Rockets tied the game. Jalen Green put the Rockets ahead, finishing a drive over Brook Lopez, the NBA’s blocked shot leader, to cap an 11-1 run in which the Bucks missed five shots and had five turnovers since his previous field goal.

Antetokounmpo finished a strong drive on a foul by Alperen Sengun, but missed the free throw with 55.3 seconds left, tying the game.

Green ran out the clock before going to the rim again, fouling Lopez and making a pair of free throws with 34.6 seconds left.

The Bucks set up a play for Antetokounmpo, but Smith dropped the pass, his fourth steal. After Green made another free throw, Antetokounmpo missed and Smith grabbed his 10th rebound, putting the win at the line.

Green led the Rockets with 30 points, making 12 of 21 shots and scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. Porter added 18 with seven assists. But the Rockets won the game on defense, holding Antetokounmpo to 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting and just three points in the fourth quarter.

Good looks gone bad

Early in the second half, the Rockets fired through a series of highlight plays that had John Lucas jumping, chest-beating and dancing. They could have used a simple catch-and-shoot 3.

The drive started with a 3-pointer by Green, but the Toyota Center was roaring when he sent an alley-oop pass to a slam by Porter, Smith blocked an Antetokoumpo drive and Smith passed to Porter for another chin slam .

Highlights, however, are by definition special. The Rockets weren’t going to beat the Bucks entirely with spectacular dunks.

When it came time to hit 3, they couldn’t.

The Rockets made just 22.2 percent of their shots from deep. The Bucks do a great job of closing the 3 and shooting from the 3-point line, but the Rockets also had looks they need to knock down.

In the previous six games, however, they had made just 30.6 percent. On Sunday, they missed their first six attempts from deep.

When Green sank his third of the night with 4:16 left, he had half of the Rockets’ total and pulled the Rockets to within three. He also remembered how useful a few made jumpers could be.

J is for Junior

KJ Martin really wanted the win for the usual reasons but mostly because of his coach.

As tributes and condolences poured in from around the NBA following the death of Rockets coach Stephen Silas’ father, NBA great Paul Silas, Martin spoke about the conversations he and his coach have maintained about their shared experiences as children of NBA players.

Both were familiar faces around their teams. Both grew up considering their parents as their heroes. They both wanted to follow in their parents’ footsteps and they did. Although Stephen Silas did not inherit his father’s game or build, he became an NBA coach like his father for 23 seasons as a coach or assistant.

He and Martin had talked about how they’d known what they wanted to do in life for a long time and how they were familiar with life in the NBA long before they lived it.

Before the Rockets played the Bucks on Sunday, Martin said he wanted wins this week especially for his coach, joking that he might take a hard foul to honor Silas’ forward’s father, a sentiment that his own father would appreciate

He didn’t, but Martin had a good first half, scoring eight points, getting a steal that turned into a green slam at the other end, and a blocked shot. He played well enough to close the half with the starters.

EG for three buckets

Eric Gordon missed his only shot of the first quarter, which seemed significant because it might have been the only touch he got in those six minutes.

In the first five minutes of the second quarter (after Gordon had waited several minutes to re-enter as he usually does at the end of the first quarter), he hit his first three shots, all off the dribble. His floater from 11 feet with 7:15 left in the half gave the Rockets a 34-31 lead, their largest at the time. The move, with a fake bomb and drive, inspired a jump and dance from Lucas.

The Rockets stagger Gordon’s playing time with the starting guards. He usually starts the second and fourth quarters with Green and Porter out, then plays an extra stretch with only one in the game.

When both are on the floor, Gordon is often sent to the corner with teams unwilling to leave him open. His 9.5 shots per game are the fewest of his 15-year NBA career. But when the ball was in his hands for a few minutes to start the second quarter, he got things going.

The Rockets even opened the second half with a layup for Gordon, but he threw to Smith, who missed a 3.

As is usual with such young teams, the Rockets can be very inconsistent. But if there are two areas they can do reliably, it’s scoring from missed shots and free kicks.

The Bucks allowed little of either.

The missing points

The Rockets have the highest offensive rebounding percentage and attempt the most free throws in the NBA. Averaging 26.1 free throws per game, they made none in the first half, just two in the third quarter. Averaging 17.4 second-chance points per game, the Rockets had eight in the fourth quarter.

A lot of that was a credit to the Bucks and the drop coverages where they kept a big man near the rim and his ability to play with the discipline that wouldn’t come.

In the fourth quarter, however, the Rockets finally drew fouls. After attempting just two free throws in the game, they went 9-of-10 from the line in the fourth quarter to win the game.

#Houston #Rockets #continue #roll #home #win #Milwaukee #Bucks

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