Rockets 115, Bucks 101

Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale liked what he saw in the

third quarter. So did Jeremy Lin, once he returned from getting

stitches.

James Harden scored 29 points to lead the Rockets to a 115-101

victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Harden shot 11 of 18 from the floor to go with seven assists and

four steals for Houston, which has won 10 of its last 13 games.

After trailing by 18 in the second quarter, Houston outscored

Milwaukee 30-14 in the third and led 77-72 at the start of the

fourth.

”Really, that third quarter is about as good as we can play,”

McHale said. ”We locked down on the defensive end, we pushed it

up, we got shots and made shots . Then we started blowing some of

their plays up just by being aggressive. I was really proud of the

guys.”

Lin was taken to the locker room with 10:34 left in the third

after the left side of his head was slightly bloodied when he

collided with the right cheek of Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders as the

two scrambled for a loose ball near midcourt. After getting five

stiches, he returned to the bench with just under 3 minutes left in

the period and started the fourth quarter.

”I just know that when I came back, our guys were flying around

with high energy,” Lin said. ”We were getting stops, just the way

we’re supposed to play, the way that we’ve played in the past in

some spurts. And then we just tried to carry it over to the fourth

quarter.”

The Rockets, who shot 54 percent from the field, also got 22

points from Carlos Delfino in his return to Milwaukee. He played

for the Bucks from 2009-12 before signing with Houston as an

unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

”I was sad, I thought I was staying in Milwaukee,” Delfino

said. ”I was playing well in the second half last year. When I

didn’t have an offer on, I didn’t blame anyone, I understand it’s a

business.”

Milwaukee equaled a season worst by losing its third game in a

row despite 16 points from Brandon Jennings.

”It’s almost the second half of the season,” Jennings said.

”Teams are going to start turning it up a notch and we need to,

also.”

Houston, which remains on the road for eight of its next 10

games, pulled away with a 13-0 run midway through the fourth

quarter.

It started with three consecutive 3-pointers. After Patrick

Patterson drilled one, Harden made two of them. He was fouled on

the first but missed the free throw, and then added another after

an offensive rebound by Patterson for a 104-90 lead.

”Shoot the ball. Catch and shoot,” Harden said. ”I work on

that every single day. The opportunity was in my hands and I took

advantage of it.”

After a layup by Lin, Harden capped the run with two free throws

for a 108-90 lead with 4:12 to play.

Milwaukee committed five turnovers during that stretch and

finished with a season-high 25 in the game.

The Rockets scored 19 of the first 21 points of the third period

and took a 66-60 lead on a layup by Toney Douglas with 6:19 to

play.

Milwaukee opened the quarter with three turnovers in a row and

then missed 13 straight field goals. The Bucks shot 20 percent in

the quarter.

”It just appeared that we just lost focus coming out of the

locker room,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. ”We had a lot of

trouble. That’s as bad a collapse as I’ve ever seen. And it

happened so fast: turnover, turnover, turnover. And we looked like

we just started going 1-on-1 instead of kind of moving the ball

like we did in the first half. And then when we did get a decent

shot at the basket, if we missed, we didn’t run back. They just ran

right by us and went down and scored.”

In the second quarter, a 22-5 run by Milwaukee gave the Bucks an

18-point lead, their largest of the game.

Milwaukee held a 26-25 lead when it scored 10 points in a row,

capped by a layup by John Henson for a 36-25 lead with 8:37

remaining.

Another layup and free throw by Henson gave the Bucks a 48-30

advantage with 5:55 to play.

”It looked like they were going to maul us,” McHale said.

Notes: Harden scored at least 20 points for the 15th consecutive

game. . Houston is 13-2 against the Eastern Conference, including

5-1 on the road . … Jennings has made at least one 3-pointer in

19 straight games and Sanders has blocked at least one shot in the

last 18 contests. … The Bucks are 2-8 against the Western

Conference, including 1-6 against the Southwest Division. . The

last time Milwaukee lost three straight was Nov. 19-24.