Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
After controlling the first half and taking an 11-point advantage into the break, the Milwaukee Bucks completely fell apart in the second half, turning a big lead into a blowout loss.
Rockets Coverage: The Dream Shake
The Milwaukee Bucks squandered a controlling first half Friday night, going to pieces in the second half and turning an 11-point lead into a 14 point loss. Milwaukee committed 25 turnovers, 19 of which came in the second half. James Harden led all scorers with 29 points on 11-18 shooting, extending his streak of 25+ point games to 11. Former Buck Carlos Delfino also torched Milwaukee, hitting 6 three-pointers en route to 22 points.
The Bucks got 14 total assists from Brandon Jennings (16 pts) and Monta Ellis (12 pts), but both struggled to make shots and committed 4 turnovers apiece. John Henson grabbed 15 rebounds off the bench and added 2 steals and 2 blocks in 27 minutes.
The Bucks held a comfortable lead at halftime behind a dominant 2nd quarter in which they led by as much as 18. The Rockets are the fastest-paced team in the NBA, but the frenetic style of play seemed to aid the Bucks far more. Jennings collected 5 of his assists in the 2nd period alone, feeling right at home darting in and out of traffic as players raced around the court. The Bucks also played solid defense, notably holding Jeremy Lin scoreless and forcing him into 4 turnovers in the first half.
But something terrible happened at halftime that brought about perhaps the worst stretch of basketball the Bucks have played all season. The Bucks committed 3 fouls and 3 turnovers in the first 90 seconds, and it didn't get much better from there. 12 agonizing minutes later and an 11-point advantage had become a 5-point deficit. All told, the Bucks' efficiency differential in the 3rd quarter was very nearly minus-60. The damage could have been much worse had the Rockets not been so sloppy with the ball themselves. More of the same in the fourth turned the game into a stunning blowout.
Milwaukee will try to regroup when they visit the Indiana Pacers tomorrow. The Rockets travel to Cleveland.