LOS ANGELES, USA – The playoff-bound Houston Rockets dropped to 4th in the West with a 108-94 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in a game billed as a clash between Most Valuable Player candidates James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
That showdown fizzled as Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe imposed himself, leading the Bucks with 23 points in NBA action on Tuesday, March 26 (Wednesday, March 27, Manila time).
Antetokounmpo added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the league-leading Bucks, but didn't score as Milwaukee seized control in the 3rd quarter.
He didn't need to as Bledsoe erupted on an 11-0 run of his own early in the 3rd on the way to 16 points in the period.
Harden led the Rockets with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Clint Capela added a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, and Chris Paul added 19 points and 9 assists.
The Bledshow WENT OFF in the WIN with a team-high 23 points!! #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/aTOoS83KDy — Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 27, 2019
Although the Rockets led by 11 in the first half, once Milwaukee took the lead they wouldn't relinquish it, outscoring the Rockets 28-2 on fastbreak points and 46-36 in the paint and making the most of 13 Rockets turnovers.
"We got open shots, we couldn't knock them down," Harden said. "We competed. They went on a run in that 3rd quarter and that was it."
Harden wasn't discouraged, noting that with 7 games left in the regular season the Rockets, after a stuttering start to the season, can still snatch the 2nd seed in the West.
"Who would have known after being in the 14th spot," he said.
"Just try to run him off the 3-point line and send him to Giannis and Brook... It was a team effort." Eric Bledsoe on defending James Harden: pic.twitter.com/Q86kYJ2WbA — Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 27, 2019