The Milwaukee Bucks overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 117-111 tonight in the season opener for both teams.
The Bucks got outplayed for much of the first half, but outscored the Rockets by five in the third quarter to put themselves in a position to have a chance to win. And that’s exactly what they did.
Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored eight of his game-high 30 points during a 13-3 run to open the fourth quarter that gave Milwaukee a 91-90 lead. Houston answered with a 5-0 run before Khris Middleton drilled a three-pointer with 6:34 remaining to give the Bucks a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
The most impressive aspect of holding the lead was that Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out with 5:18 left on what was a questionable call. With him not on the floor, the Bucks turned to Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova for their offense. The two had 10 of Milwaukee’s final 16 points.
Before fouling out, Giannis put on a show. He finished with a triple-double, scoring 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He became the first Milwaukee Buck ever to have a triple-double in a season opener.
That effort was backed up by Wesley Matthews’ 14 points and Ilyasova’s 13.
Milwaukee’s defense largely put the clamps down on Houston’s two former MVP’s. Russell Westbrook had 24 points in his Houston debut but it took him 17 shots to get it. James Harden was just 2-for-13 from the floor, getting nearly all of his 19 points from the free throw line.
The victory was the Bucks third-straight season opening win. Milwaukee (1-0) will head home to face the Miami Heat (1-0) on Saturday at The Fiserv Forum with the tip being set for 4:00 PM (CT).