The Houston Rockets put an end to the Milwaukee Bucks' three-game winning streak Saturday night behind dominating performances from both inside and outside. Donatas Motiejunas showed off some of his versatility from the post in a 20p/6r/4a performance while James Harden was at his surgical best with 34p/6r/8a. Jason Terry got the starting at point guard and chimed in with 18 points on 4-8 shooting from deep.
Though Trevor Ariza was having a cold night (5-18 shooting, 4-12 from deep) and Houston was without Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones, the Rockets were still able to drill 15 threes and outrebound Milwaukee 44-32.
Amidst a generally uninspiring performance from the Bucks were a few silver linings. Giannis Antetokounmpo (17/7r) and Jabari Parker (19p/9r/5a) both had quality overall performances, while Ersan Ilyasova kept his strong run of play going with 18 points off the bench. Other than the two teenagers and the rejuvenated Ilyasova, there wasn't much assistance from the remaining cast, and a well-executed game plan from the Rockets had the Bucks scrambling and over-compensating just enough to keep them out of sorts.
Despite the loss, the Bucks (10-8) close out the month with a winning record for the first time since the Scott Skiles era. Milwaukee would have been in a tie for the Central Division lead with Chicago had they won, but alas, those parties will have to be put on hold for the time being.
-- In his 17p/7r performance, Giannis Antetokounmpo added to his highlight reel with a couple more outstanding plays. He turns 20 next week, and I've already caught myself wondering about what crazy move he'll make next as I'm heading down to the game. The future is going to be so very bright.
-- Jabari Parker was a little loose at times and couldn't stop Motiejunas' post game on a number of occasions, but he was still the most energetic Buck on the floor for most of the game, and continued his recent run of playmaking with his second five-assist game in 24 hours. He was also 13/14 from the free throw line, his first made free throws at the BMO Harris Bradley Center after starting the season a puzzling 0/6 in his first seven home games. His aggression was tantalizing and, like Giannis, once he figures out to use his skills to his advantage, look out.
-- I don't have much of a reason to say it based on tonight's performances, but I'll just go ahead and drop it anyways: I like Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall (as backups).
-- O.J. Mayo continued to struggle with his shot tonight, going 2-10. He left the game in the first half after appearing to injure his right arm/hand. He would return to the game, but wasn't able to impact it very much from that point on.
-- This was the Bucks' third week (out of four) where they've had four games in five nights. That shouldn't be used as an excuse for the loss -- Houston was missing more guys and also on the second night of a back-to-back -- but it has been a bit of a scheduling oddity. They only have one more stretch like that the entire season, thankfully.
All in all, the Bucks finished November with a 9-7 record and are 10-8 overall. Not many people expected that, and it's been fun to watch, even if some of the opponents haven't been. December figures to be a much tougher test for Milwaukee, and it gets started on Tuesday as they head to Cleveland to take on Joe Harris and the Cavaliers.