Inquirer Daily News

Rockets seek rebound effort with Bucks in town

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets will try to put a disappointing loss in the rearview mirror when they continue a five-game homestand Saturday versus the lowly Milwaukee Bucks at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets played well in the first half of Thursday's 104-92 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but went stone cold over the final 24 minutes, scoring just 19 points. The minus-54 point differential is the largest between halves in NBA history.

Houston led 73-59 at the break after going 12-of-20 from beyond the arc, but missed all 14 of its 3-point attempts over the final two quarters. The 73 points in the opening half were a season-best. The Rockets' previous low for a half was 24 in the first half at San Antonio back on Nov. 13, 2001 and 24 in the second half versus New Orleans on Jan. 19, 2012.

"We did not have the pace that we had in the first half," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "We just couldn't sustain our pace in the second half."

Terrence Jones and James Harden scored 16 points apiece and Dwight Howard ended with 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Donatas Motiejunas added 15 points off the bench and Aaron Brooks had 11 as a reserve.

"We didn't get shots. We missed layups, a couple of errant turnovers in transition that we could have converted on," Harden said when asked about the second half. "Just small things."

The Rockets are 15-6 at home this season and will also host Portland, Sacramento and Memphis on the stay.

Milwaukee has the worst record in the NBA at 7-31 and will play two straight on the road against Houston and San Antonio.

The Bucks sport just a 4-16 away mark, are winless in four straight road games and have lost seven in a row overall, including Wednesday's 82-77 loss versus Memphis. Brandon Knight scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting and Larry Sanders ended with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in the loss, the Bucks' 15th in their last 17 games.

Sanders missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with two seconds left.

"He (Sanders) was not an option the last play of the game for a three," Bucks coach Larry Drew said of the final shot.

One option would have been Caron Butler, who scored 10 points off the bench. Drew said Sanders was supposed to set a screen, but the Grizzlies' defense altered those plans and played tough defense on Knight.

Milwaukee trailed by as many as 14 points and later grabbed a 60-58 lead.

Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova was just 2-for-11 for four points, one game after pumping in 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting.

The Bucks and Rockets will play the first of two matchups this season and are scheduled to meet again Feb. 8 in Brew City. The two clubs split a pair of games last season with each team holding serve on the road.

Houston is 12-4 in the last 16 matchups with Milwaukee, which has won two in a row in Space City after dropping 11 straight there. The Bucks lead the all- time series with the Rockets by a 65-60 count thanks to a 41-16 advantage at home.

01/18 10:05:04 ET