The already depleted Milwaukee Bucks unfortunately added to their injury report once again on Saturday night.
After only playing exactly four minutes and 23 seconds, Larry Sanders left Saturday night’s game after getting hit in the eye by James Harden of the Rockets. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game at the start of the third quarter due to blurred vision. The Bucks started Sanders alongside John Henson for the first time this entire season and it turned out to be short lived. “Hey man, it’s plenty of time for us to be back in the fold together. We just hope he gets healthy enough and is fine in the long run.” Henson said after the game. Sanders said he’s having trouble seeing side-to-side. Milwaukee came into the game with only nine healthy players after Ersan Ilyasova was ruled out with a back injury. The trio of Zaza Pachulia, Miroslav Raduljica and John Henson tallied 28 points for Milwaukee.
In the first half, Terrence Jones – who scored a career-high 36 points last time they met – didn’t register a single point. Surprisingly, he wasn’t on the floor nearly as much as before (only playing nine minutes in the first half) and attempted only one shot. Still, Houston managed to find ways to score the basketball. Patrick Beverley led Houston with 13 points and went 3-for-3 from the three point line. Jeremy Lin chipped in 11 points off the bench while James Harden scored 10. Dwight Howard and all 265 pounds of his muscle dropped in 10 with six rebounds. Brandon Knight had 15 for Milwaukee.
The start of the third quarter was certainly delightful for Milwaukee. They started the quarter hot by going on an 18-4 run. This was a big quarter for Nate Wolters specifically, and he finished the game with a career-high 19 points. Wolters made a 3-pointer at the 10:40 mark which gave him his first made attempt from that spot since December 27th. Despite the energized run, Milwaukee still couldn’t execute on the defensive side of the ball, something Larry Drew emphasized pre-game. “We’ve got to do a better job as far as getting back and building a wall.” Drew said. James Harden scored 10 points for Houston in the third and the Rockets were shooting 53% at the end of it.
The Bucks once again narrowed the gap late in the game but weren’t able stop the opposing squad. Milwaukee came within just six points with nearly under two minutes left in the game. Then, the Bucks pulled to three with just 21.2 seconds left in the game, but Brandon Knight couldn’t score at the rim and Milwaukee immediately fouled Dwight Howard (duh). ““We couldn’t get over that hump in the fourth quarter. We kept chipping away. That play was exactly how it went, I thought he got to the basket and the shot got there, but it didn’t go down. But the play was executed well.” Larry Drew said after the game. Milwaukee has struggled late in games this season and they haven’t been able to capitalize on late-game runs numerous times.
This loss gives the Bucks their 41st of the season with the All-Star break approaching in the coming days. Milwaukee is currently on a six-game home stretch and it will conclude on the 22nd against the best defensive team in basketball: the Indiana Pacers. After scoring 62 points in the first matchup inside the paint, Houston dropped in 58 on the night. On the positive side, Milwaukee at least dropped in 48 points for themselves, and outscored Houston in fast break points by eight. Khris Middleton scored 20 points for Milwaukee and notched a career-high 8 assists. “The thing I like about Khris is he doesn’t let one or two games where he doesn’t shoot the ball well affect him.” Larry Drew said before the game.
For Houston, they won their fifth straight game on Saturday night – matching their longest winning streak of the season. The Rockets have won 12 straight games when they’ve scored 100 points. Terrence Jones only scored two points for the Rockets after torching the Bucks for a career-high 36 last time in Houston. Jones only played 23 minutes and attempted four shots, along with turning the ball over five times. Dwight Howard secured his 33rd double-double of the season.