Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out late in the fourth but it didn’t matter.
The Milwaukee Bucks came back from a 16-point halftime deficit, held last season’s MVP runner-up to 2-for-13 shooting and spoiled Russell Westbrook’s Houston Rockets debut with a 117-111 win.
Antetokounmpo finished with a triple-double — 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists — in just 28 minutes. The reigning MVP shot 11 of 17 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-point range and 6-for-11 from the free-throw line. also had a steal, just three turnovers and this ridiculous block on Harden.
Harden, who finished with 19 points, 14 assists, scored just four in the second half — all free throws in the fourth — going 0-for-7 with three of his seven turnovers, as the Bucks fought back to get the lead for the first time — 91-90 — with just 8:34 to go in the game, after a 13-3 run.
Westbrook was solid in his debut. He shot his typical 7 of 17 from the field, but did go 3-for-7 from deep and 7 of 11 from the line, finishing with 24 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists with just three turnovers.
Bucks newcomer Wes Matthews had 14 points, going 2-for-8 from deep.
Khris Middleton and his new, near-max contract, had 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
With Antetokounmpo out, it was Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova that carried the Bucks late — Ilyasova from the perimeter and Lopez from the post. The center finished with 11 points and five blocks, while Ilyasova had 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting, 11 rebounds and multiple “charges taken” off the bench.
Milwaukee opens up home Saturday at 4 p.m. against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. Listen on WKTY 96.7 FM / 580 AM.