Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and a season-high 21 rebounds to help the Milwaukee Bucks withstand a 42-point performance from James Harden and beat the Houston Rockets 116-109 on Wednesday night.
In a matchup of the two 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.
Milwaukee held a 13-point lead with about five minutes left before Houston used a 8-0 run, started by two 3-pointers from Harden, to cut it to 107-102. The Bucks got a layup from Eric Bledsoe before Harden scored the next four points to get Houston to 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. Harden shot 6 of 16 on 3-pointers to give him at least five in the last 11 games.