Historic tactic pays off for Harden’s Rockets

Russell Westbrook scored 31 points and James Harden added 24 to rally the Houston Rockets over NBA overall leader Milwaukee 120-116 despite a big night for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

On Monday, the Bucks led 112-104 after Khris Middleton’s three-pointer with 3:14 to play, but Houston closed the game with a 16-4 run.

“It’s amazing,” Westbrook said. “We fought through. Adversity showed up and we showed off. All the guys in our locker room showed up to play for 48 minutes.”

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The Rockets went 21-of-61 from three-point range, matching an NBA record for the most three-point attempts by a club in a non-overtime game, with Danuel House hitting four and Harden among five other players who landed three from outside the arc.

Prior to losing to the Rockets Sunday, the Bucks had been a league-best 50-0 when leading by 8+ points with 3 minutes or less to go in regulation this season. pic.twitter.com/5OhDVgXGlg

“You have to make the right reads and trust your teammates and that’s what I tried to do all night long,” Westbrook said.

The Rockets also rallied from seven points down in the final minute to defeat Dallas on Friday.

Westbrook, on a career-best run of 36 consecutive games with 20 or more points, hit 10-of-21 from the floor, 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 10-of-12 free throws. Harden had six steals, seven rebounds and seven assists.

James Harden scored 24 points for the Houston Rockets on Monday.Source:Getty Images

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Greek big man Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 36 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists. Middleton had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Brook Lopez added 23 points and 12 rebounds.

“We’ve got to keep executing at the end of close games,” Antetokounmpo said.

“We weren’t able to do that. We’ve got to find the open man and hit more shots.”

The Rockets improved to 42-24, level with Utah for fourth in the Western Conference and only one game behind Denver, while the Bucks fell to 54-13, still the best record in the NBA and six games better than Toronto to top the Eastern Conference.

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