The Milwaukee Bucks, who are coming off a 113-105 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday for their fifth straight win, will take on the Rockets in Houston at the Toyota Center on Friday night.
Against L.A., O.J. Mayo came up huge in the clutch as he nailed two three-pointers in the final minute of regulation, including a contested shot from deep in the corner with 0.5 remaining to send the game into overtime.
Brandon Knight, who missed Monday’s game in Toronto due to a quadriceps injury, heated up in the extra period, scoring 12 of his 24 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 25 points and Khris Middleton, along with Mayo, scored 21 points.
Houston has also been on a streak, winning five of its last six games as they took care of the Chicago Bulls, 101-90, on Wednesday night as James Harden led the way with 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting, while Trevor Ariza added 20. The Rockets took the lead in the second quarter, as Harden scored 15 and never looked back.
Houston may have missed Dwight Howard’s boards as they were out-rebounded, 60-47, but they still dominated the paint, outscoring Chicago’s big men, 50-28, and recording eight blocks. In addition, the Rockets held the Bulls to 90 points and moved to 12-0 when holding opponents to that point total or less.
In fact, Houston has held opponents to 94.4 points without three-time defensive player of the year Howard and is third overall in the league in total defensive rating.
However, the main reason for their winning formula has to be Harden, as he is averaging a league-high 27 points per game and has deservedly earned his second consecutive Western Conference Player of the Month award. In January, Harden led the Rockets to an 11-6 record and averaged astounding numbers - 25.8 points, 6.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
In this contest, expect the Rockets to rely on the three-point arc and getting to the foul line as the Rockets lead the league in three-pointers attempted and made per game at 11.8. They also rank eighth in free throws attempted per game at 24.5 and 10th in free throws made at 17.6.
These two teams met each other on November 29 in Milwaukee, where the Rockets, despite missing three starters, including Dwight Howard to a knee strain, defeated the Bucks, 117-103. Harden had a substantial output as he totaled 34 points, while Donatas Motiejunas scored 20 points as well.
Motiejunas has also risen to the occasion as he is averaging 19.5 points over his last four after scoring 10.9 before that stretch and is averaging a career-best 6.1 boards per game.
Houston will look to win for the sixth time in seven tries against Milwaukee and will have the luxury of playing at home, where the Rockets have posted a 17-7 record, and the Bucks have dropped 12 of its last 14 on the road. Still, Milwaukee is 15-12 on the road and 7-3 in its last ten games.
The game tips off at 8 pm Eastern Standard Time.