HOUSTON -- One night after rallying to win in Dallas, the Milwaukee Bucks did so again on Monta Ellis' miraculous buzzer-beater for a 110-107 win over the Rockets on Wednesday night at Toyota Center.
Ellis capped his 27-point, 13-assist effort by taking a desperate pass from Brandon Jennings and heaving a 3-pointer that rolled around the rim before finally dropping in.
Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova breathed life into Milwaukee (28-28) with his offensive rebound to set up the winning basket and complete Milwaukee's comeback from a 17-point deficit.
James Harden, whose driving layup with 34.7 seconds left pulled the Rockets (31-28) even, paced Houston with 25 points and seven assists. Forward Chandler Parsons added 20 points while Houston center Omer Asik paired 16 points with a career-high 22 rebounds.
Ilyasova scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bucks while Mike Dunleavy added 16 points and six rebounds off the Milwaukee bench.
The sluggishness of an unsightly second quarter surrendered to riveting play in the fourth. Neither team led by more than five points until the Rockets reeled off nine consecutive points capped by an improbable Asik alley-oop finish for a 105-99 lead with 3:07 left to play. Milwaukee was quick with its reply, starting with an Ilyasova 3-point play.
Dunleavy followed with a 3-pointer before Bucks center Larry Sanders delivered a block of Harden on one end before tipping in Ellis' missed jumper for a 107-105 lead on the offensive end.
Having last played Saturday night in Washington, the Rockets appeared the fresher of the two teams. They connected on 12 of their first 13 attempts, racking up 10 assists in the process.
Contributions came from every corner, with standbys like Harden and Parsons facilitating as frequently as Donatas Motiejunas and Thomas Robinson, newcomers to their respective roles.
After Parsons assisted Asik on an alley-oop dunk, the Rockets led 28-11 with 5:09 left in the first quarter. Following a timeout, it was the Bucks who were suddenly revitalized, closing the period with a 22-8 burst spurred by their commitment to defense and transition scoring.
The Rockets could not capitalize on Milwaukee playing its second game in two nights. Every time Houston forged a working margin the Bucks responded.
Jeremy Lin scored on a reverse layup to stake the Rockets to a 48-39 lead, but the Bucks answered with runs of 8-2 and 8-0 to snuff out the deficit and pull even at 55 by the break.
NOTES: Even with their satisfying win at Dallas on Tuesday, the Bucks remain a work in progress because they acquired guard J.J. Redick at the trade deadline. How Redick blends most efficiently with the backcourt tandem of Ellis and Jennings, particularly down the stretch of tight games, is unclear. "The thing is we have options," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "As the coach, you've got to look at what you have and try to figure out what gives you the best chance to win the game. If somebody has it going out there or there's a combination that has it going out there, then that's who you need to roll with." ... The addition of rookie forward/center Motiejunas to the starting lineup could alter the Rockets' rotation permanently during their playoff push. With undeniable practice effort, Motiejunas forced his way into the mix. How he adjusts to starting is the next challenge. "His time is here," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "I told him yesterday that all that work is going to pay off."