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Bucks foil Rockets; Antetokounmpo tallies 27 points, 21 boards

Giannia Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks fights Houston Rockets' PJ Tucker (17) and James Harden (13)  for a rebound. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Giannia Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks fights Houston Rockets’ PJ Tucker (17) and James Harden (13) for a rebound. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and a season-high 21 rebounds to help the Milwaukee Bucks withstand a 42-point performance from James Harden and beat the Houston Rockets 116-109 on Wednesday night.

In a matchup of the two front-runners for MVP, Harden and his teammates were done in by a shooting slump late in the third quarter that spilled into the fourth and left them down by 15 points.

Milwaukee held a 13-point lead with about five minutes left before Houston used an 8-0 run, started by two 3-pointers from Harden, to cut it to 107-102. The Bucks got a layup from Eric Bledsoe before Harden scored the next four points to get Houston to 109-106 with 2 1/2 minutes left.

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws to push Milwaukee’s lead to four points with about 90 seconds left. Harden missed his third straight 3-pointer before Antetokounmpo added a layup on the other end to make it 112-106 with 40 seconds remaining.

Harden missed another 3 seconds later and the Bucks added four free throws down the stretch to secure the their seventh victory in eight games.

It was Harden’s sixth 40-point outing in the last eight games and he has scored 30 or more points in 14 straight games, which is the longest streak since Tracy McGrady did it in 2003. Harden shot 6 of 16 on 3-pointers to give him at least five in the last 11 games.

NETS 116, HAWKS 100

In New York, D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points, Ed Davis grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, and Brooklyn climbed out of an early 19-point hole to beat Atlanta.

DeMarre Carroll added 17 points to help the Nets improve to 21-22 with their eighth victory in their last nine home games. They managed only 20 wins for the entire season just two years ago, but have engineered a big turnaround after a slow start to this season. On Wednesday, they did the same thing in the game.

They yielded 46 points in the first 15 minutes, then held the Hawks to 37 points over the next 25 minutes.

Joe Harris, back after a one-game absence with a sprained right ankle, scored 16 points, as did Spencer Dinwiddie.

John Collins had 30 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who may have run out of steam after their strong start while playing on the second straight night. Trae Young had 17 points and seven assists, and Jeremy Lin added 16 points.

WIZARDS 123, 76ERS 106

In Washington, Bradley Beal scored 14 straight points in the fourth quarter and finished with 34 to help Washington beat Philadelphia for a split of the home-and-home set.

After Washington’s 26-point third-quarter lead was cut to 12 in the fourth, Beal outscored Philadelphia 14-5 to make it 116-95 with 4:22 left. Beal was 6 of 11 from 3-point range and 13 of 21 overall from the field.

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