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Milwaukee vs. Houston: Bucks hold on for win in Houston

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What a gritty display of basketball on both ends by the Bucks when Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks needed to rally from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat the Houston Rockets 117-111 in the season opener. The Bucks looked lifeless for three quarters, but then the MVP showed up in the fourth and began to put on a clinic.

Here are three Bucks who made their presence felt in the comeback victory.

Three Bucks

It took a while for Giannis Antetokounmpo to find a rhythm offensively against the Rockets, but when he did, no one was stopping him.

It took him only 28 minutes to drop a 30 point, 13 rebound, 11 assist triple-double. Giannis made 11-of-17 shots from the floor and 2-of-5 tries from three-point range. I thought his touch from the outside looked smoother and he got a bit more air on his jumper. Aside from the early airball, his shot looks improved. Credit to Houston for making him uncomfortable in the first half, but a lot of his timidness offensively was also due to him picking up some silly fouls. He ended up fouling out with 5:18 left, but that offensive explosion he went on in the final frame helped propel Milwaukee to a victory.

So when are the Bucks going to put up a statue of Ersan Ilyasova outside Fiserv Forum?

His efforts on both ends of the floor in the second half helped the Bucks hang on to victory, even when Giannis fouled out. The Turkish Thunder converted on 6-of-8 shots for 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also took a few charges last night but saved his best for the final minutes. With the Bucks hanging on to a narrow deficit, Ilyasova converted on a few patented mid-range jumpers to help hold the lead.

It was not a great showing in the season opener for Khris Middleton.

He finished with a meager 11 points and shot 4-of-16 from the floor. Most of the shots he took last night were contested and off isolation plays, but he did also miss multiple open jump shots. Middleton made only 3-of-9 three-pointers in 33 minutes, but two of those makes were in crunch time. This seems to be a simple clunker for Middleton, and those jumpers will fall. Look for him to bounce back at the home opener on Saturday versus the Miami Heat.

Bonus Bucks

  • Like many Bucks, Brook Lopez was quite for much of the game. However, he turned it up offensively when the Bucks needed it. He finished with 11 points and five blocks, and hit multiple big shots down the stretch, including some beautiful moves in the low post. He made only one three, but remember, he was one of the best low-post scorers in the NBA during the early stages of his career.
  • It did not seem like Eric Bledsoe was 100% healthy out there. He played only 16 minutes and contributed 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. He was also tied for a team-worst minus-6.
  • I love Wesley Matthews. Even though he shot only 2-of-8 from deep, he hit the dagger three to put Houston away late. In total, he chipped in 14 points and found his stroke after halftime. Solid debut for The Arrow.
  • The Bucks dished out 31 assists to only 11 turnovers...that’ll do.