Basketball

NBA: Bucks finish month 15-1 in romp over Hornets; Harden scores 60 as Rockets dominate Hawks

(REUTERS) – Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points in just 20 minutes of action, leading nine Milwaukee Bucks players in double figures as they cruised to their 11th straight NBA win with a 137-96 rout of the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Saturday (Nov 30) at Fiserv Forum.

Milwaukee never trailed, building a double-digit lead less than seven minutes into the first quarter. The Hornets trimmed the deficit to three early in the second quarter, paced by the jump shooting of guards Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, but got no closer.

The Bucks quickly pushed the gap to 23 points three minutes out of half-time.

Wesley Matthews hit back-to-back three-pointers early in the period, part of his 3-for-6 shooting from deep and 14 points.

Robin Lopez knocked down three three-pointers and finished with 13 points. The Bucks hit 20 of 44 (45.5 per cent) from long range as a team.

Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, Ersan Ilyasova, George Hill and Dragan Bender all got in on the three-point shooting with multiple made attempts. Each joined in the mob of Bucks scoring in double figures. Khris Middleton scored 15 to pace a Bucks bench that scored 72 points.

Eric Bledsoe scored just two points but took only a pair of shots, and his 10 assists led Milwaukee to a season-high 41 as a team.

In another game, James Harden scored 60 points to reach the mark for the fourth time in his career as the Houston Rockets steamrolled the visiting Atlanta Hawks 158-111.

He made 16 of 24 field-goal attempts, including 8 of 14 from three-point range, and connected on 20 of 23 free-throw attempts. He played just 31 minutes owing to the one-sided contest and fell one point shy of his career high of 61, accomplished twice.

His fourth 60-point outing ties for third in NBA history with Michael Jordan. Only Wilt Chamberlain (32) and Kobe Bryant (six) have more.

“That’s a great list right there. Those guys are something that I’m trying to get to,” Harden said in a post-game television interview. “Hopefully when it is all said and done, I can be mentioned in that group forever.”

In another game, Joel Embiid had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Ben Simmons had three steals in the final 13.9 seconds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 119-116 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Simmons finished with 15 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals. Tobias Harris scored 22 points for Philadelphia, who won their third straight while improving to 9-0 at home.

The key difference-maker for Milwaukee against Charlotte was Antetokounmpo. The Hornets had no answer for the reigning National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, who shot 11 of 19 from the floor, grabbed nine rebounds and helped facilitate the outside shooting with four assists.

Despite his outstanding all-around performance, Antetokounmpo’s double-double streak to open the season ended at 19 games. His was the longest such streak since Bill Walton recorded 34 straight in 1976-77.

The Eastern Conference-leading Bucks closed November 15-1 for the month.

The Hornets came into the match-up with back-to-back wins, both against Detroit.

Graham and Rozier, Charlotte’s leading scorers on the season, led the way with 24 and 19 points respectively. Rookie P.J. Washington scored a season-high 26 points on Friday, but failed to replicate that level of efficiency on a 3-of-12 shooting night. He finished with seven points.

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