James Harden, Rockets shut down Bucks with late run, impressive defensive stand

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

It took a late run and a record-tying amount of 3-point shots, but the Houston Rockets are still undefeated inside the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World.

The Rockets surged ahead late on Sunday night to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 in a thrilling finish, marking their second-straight since play resumed.

“We fought through it,” said Russell Westbrook, who led the Rockets with 31 points and eight assists. “Adversity showed up. Adversity showed up, and we showed out. I’m so proud of all our guys. This locker room did an amazing job competing for 48 minutes.”

James Harden on guarding Giannis: ‘Next question’

Harden was asked after the game how difficult it was to guard Antetokounmpo — something he did extremely well on Sunday night, especially in the final stretch.

He wasn’t having it.

Antetokounmpo did put up a game-high 36 points in the loss, but scored just once in the final five minutes of the contest. Houston forced three turnovers during that stretch, too, and finished the game on a 16-4 run.

While their defense has been an issue at times — the Rockets gave up 149 points in their opening game in the bubble against the Mavericks on Friday — Harden isn’t worried about it.

He wasn’t trying make a point, either.

“I’ve got nothing to prove,” Harden said, via USA Today’s Mark Medina. “I’m just happy we got a win. At this point, I don’t care about negative energy. I don’t pay attention to it.”

Harden finished the night with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He went just 3-of-12 from behind the arc. As a team, Houston put up 61 shot attempts from the 3-point line, tying an NBA record while shooting 34.4 percent from that range.

Khris Middleton added 27 points and 12 rebounds for Milwaukee, and Brook Lopez finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Those two, along with Antetokounmpo, were the only three to score in double figures for the Bucks. They did, however, out-rebound Houston by 29 boards.

While they were down both Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton, who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, Antetokounmpo isn’t willing to make any excuses.

“Usually when we're up six two minutes to go, we usually close the game out,” Antetokounmpo said, via the Associated Press. “But we didn't do that today, so we've got to learn from it and got to keep moving.”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 02: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets moves the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 02, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 02: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets moves the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 02, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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