GIANNIS Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 44 points and paced a dominant offensive attack as the Milwaukee Bucks earned a 125-105, wire-to-wire victory over the Houston Rockets in their home opener on Saturday.
Mr. Antetokounmpo shot 17-for-21 from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Bucks, who shot 56.5 percent overall and led by as many as 27 points. Jrue Holiday added 19 points and 10 assists for Milwaukee, which established control by darting to a 13-0 lead out of the gate.
Jalen Green scored 22 points for Houston while backcourt mate Kevin Porter, Jr. added 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists. However, Mr. Green and Mr. Porter shot a combined 11 of 34.
The Bucks’ dominance extended to the defensive end as well. Anchored by Brook Lopez (five blocks and two steals), Milwaukee held the Rockets to 38.7 percent shooting, including 20 of 56 on 2-pointers.
With Mr. Holiday making his first three shots and the Rockets committing three turnovers, the Bucks led 11-0 before Houston tried to slow the surge with a timeout.
Mr. Porter snapped the drought with a layup at the 8:57 mark that got the Rockets on the board, but Mr. Holiday made two more shots before missing, Mr. Lopez started 3 of 3 on 3-pointers and the Bucks fashioned a 41-23 lead by the end of the first with Mr. Antetokounmpo, Mr. Holiday and Mr. Lopez totaling 30 points on 11-of-12 shooting. The Bucks extended to a 24-point lead in the first half before Mr. Green tallied 11 consecutive points for Houston, which closed to within 58-43 with 3:43 left in the second quarter.
Mr. Antetokounmpo responded with a personal 9-0 run of his own, including a three-point play with 7.7 seconds left that enabled the Bucks to take a 67-48 lead into the intermission.
Antetokounmpo had a whopping five three-point play opportunities in the first half but only converted two. Still, Milwaukee recorded 17 fastbreak points prior to the break and made 10 of 17 from behind the arc.
The Rockets used an 8-0 spurt in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 75-63 but they had no answer for Mr. Antetokounmpo, who scored 18 points in the third on 7-of-8 shooting. His three-point play with 1:19 left in the period lifted Milwaukee to a 96-77 advantage. — Reuters